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President Obama Vetoes the NDAA over Slush Fund

Action Veto NDAA Vetoed

Last week, President Obama made good on his promise to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016. While the President listed several issues he opposed, the last straw was Congress increasing the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account in order to circumvent Pentagon spending caps. The OCO account, originally designed to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, has become a slush fund for programs with little connections to current war efforts. The Congressional Research Service found that even according to the Pentagon's own accounting, it spent $71 billion from the OCO on non-war programs from 2001 to 2014. 

Congress is playing games with our tax dollars by increasing war spending accounts to circumvent Pentagon spending caps they passed into law. The Pentagon base budget is already extremely high; using an unlimited slush fund to circumvent defense spending caps will not lead to a more effective military. What it has done, though, is increase wasteful spending and decrease oversight. Much-needed changes to defense policy and procurement are unlikely to be implemented if budgetary tricks allow Congress and the Pentagon to defer indefinitely decisions about how defense dollars are spent. 

Even in the absence of the NDAA, our troops will still be funded through annual spending bills. The President was right to veto the NDAA because the policies and priorities outlined in this legislation fall short of the responsible military spending policies that we need.

By: Elizabeth "Liz" Hempowicz
Director of Public Policy, POGO

Liz Hempowicz Liz Hempowicz is the Director of Public Policy for the Project On Government Oversight.

By: Dan Grazier
Jack Shanahan Military Fellow, POGO

Photo of Dan Grazier Dan Grazier is the Jack Shanahan Military Fellow at the Project On Government Oversight

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Budget, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Defense, Wasteful Defense Spending

Authors: Dan Grazier, Elizabeth "Liz" Hempowicz

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