THE WHITE HOUSE
OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY
President Vetoes Defense Authorization Bill; Raises Pay for Military The President today vetoed the fiscal 1996 defense
authorization bill, but took steps to ensure that the military's uniformed men and women receive the full 2.4 percent pay raise that he had requested.
The bill would have constrained the President's ability to carry out national security policy; forced the deployment of a costly and unnecessary ballistic missile defense system that would threaten the ABM treaty; and interfered with his management of key national defense programs. Moreover, certain provisions would have raised serious constitutional issues by restricting the President's authority to conduct foreign affairs and to act as Commander in Chief.
"I am anxious to have Congress delete the unacceptable provisions in this bill and to return it to me for my signature," the President said.
The bill would have provided for a 2.4 percent pay raise for uniformed men and women. In light of his veto, the President wanted to ensure that uniformed men and women were not harmed as he worked to resolve differences with Congress on the bill.
Consequently, he is issuing an Executive Order today that provides for a 2 percent pay raise, the most that the law allows him to do. He also is sending legislation to Congress today to implement a full 2.4 percent pay raise, giving the military full comparability with civilian pay raises since civil servants benefit from locality pay increases as well. (The legislation also would increase two pay-related allowances for uniformed personnel -- one for housing, the other for food).
"I welcome separate action on the pay raise; I want it to be effective on January 1 and I will sign it as soon as I get it," the President stated. "We are committed to giving the troops a full pay raise and we ought to do so immediately."
Unacceptable provisions in the authorization bill are numerous. Among the most important are the requirement to deploy a costly, unnecessary ballistic missile defense system in the U.S. by the year 2003, which would put U.S. policy on a collision course with the ABM Treaty. Also, the bill would restrict the President's ability to conduct contingency operations and require certifications to Congress of command over such operations that infringe on his authority as Commander in Chief.
The bill also would unwisely restrict the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction programs, direct procurement to specific contractor facilities, force unwarranted discharge of HIV-positive service members, and restrict the ability of female service members and dependents of military personnel to obtain privately-funded abortions in military facilities overseas.
The President did note that the bill contains important authorities for military construction, family housing, acquisition reform, and management of information technology which he hoped to see return in an acceptable bill.