US House of Representatives passed a $612 billion defence policy bill on Friday despite President Barack Obama’s promise to veto it.
The bill provides $522.7 billion for national defence and another $89.2 billion for the emergency war-fighting fund for a total of $611.9 billion for the Defence Department.
The bill, which outlines 2016 defence spending, was accepted with a 269-151 vote with support of all but eight Republicans and 41 Democrats, who went against their party leaders’ and Democratic president’s veto threat.
The White House opposes the bill saying it circumvents the spending caps to increase the military spending as well as passing provisions limiting Obama’s foreign policy agenda.
The bill abides limits of a 2011 bipartisan budget deal placed caps on defence and domestic spending, yet circumvents them by placing a $89 billion provision for emergency war funding that is not counted in the caps.
Democrats criticise Republicans for circumventing the spending caps for defence expenses while avoiding the same for other domestic spending and want any increase in military spending above caps to be matched with a boost in domestic spending in other areas.
The White House said using special provisions “to circumvent budget caps in defence spending also ignores the long-term connection between national security and economic security, and fails to account for vital national security functions carried out at nondefense agencies.”
President Obama promised to veto the defence bill in case it circumvents the spending caps.
Republican Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry said: “Far better for him (Obama), and his party's leadership in Congress to help an adequate defence budget keep moving through Congress rather than perpetuate a fight all Americans, whether Republican or Democrat, might later regret.”
“Just to automatically assume you need an increase on the domestic side without laying the predicate for why is irresponsible,” Armed Services Committee member Michael Conaway (R-TX) said.
The White House also opposes several provisions in the bill including one that restricts Obama’s ability to close down Guantanamo Bay prison, which was one of the president’s election promises.
It also calls for arming Ukrainian government forces fighting against the separatists in the east of the country, an idea the administration remained reluctant so far.
To go into effect, the bill has to clear votes through Senate and signed by President Obama.