- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The
White House on Friday threatened to veto a $440.2 billion defense spending
bill in the Senate because it wasn't enough money for the Pentagon and
also warned lawmakers not to add any amendments to regulate the treatment
of detainees or set up a commission to probe abuse.
- Last summer, Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona
and John Warner of Virginia and others sought legislation banning cruel
and degrading treatment of prisoners.
- The administration has been criticized for holding
prisoners at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely. Critics have also questioned
whether administration policies led to abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison
- The Senate legislation, which includes a $50 billion
emergency fund to keep combat operations running in Iraq into next year,
could be voted on next month.
- The measure provides $7 billion less than President
George W. Bush requested early this year and is nearly $1 billion below
- "These cuts will either result in deterioration
of our force readiness" or will require additional spending requests
from the administration later in the fiscal year, the White House budget
office warned senators.
- The House of Representatives last summer passed a
fiscal 2006 defense spending bill supported by the Bush administration,
although the White House complained about $3 billion in cuts that it said
would hamper regular military operations.
- Referring to the Senate bill, the White House statement
on Friday noted that Bush's senior advisers would recommend vetoing a bill
"that significantly underfunds the department (of defense)" and
shifts the money to domestic programs not related to security.
- In addition, the White House threatened to veto the
defense spending bill if it changes the process for considering military
base closures within the United States.
- Besides cutting some operation and maintenance accounts
at the Pentagon, the Senate bill would cut the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft
by $270 million and would reduce the Transformational Satellite Communications
program by $250 million. Spending on a missile defense program would be
about $800 million below Bush's request.