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Clinton Vetoes DoD Authorization Bill, Raises Pay for

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 2, 1996 – President Clinton vetoed the 1996 Defense Authorization Bill, but took steps to ensure the military's uniformed men and women receive the full 2.4 percent pay raise that he had requested. 

In his veto message Clinton urged lawmakers to consider separate action on the pay raise. "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." 

The president issued an executive order giving service members a 2 percent pay raise, the most that law allows him to do. He also is sending legislation to Congress 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 allowances for housing and food.

The president objected to a number of provisions in the authorization bill. Among the most important was the bill's requirement to deploy a ballistic missile defense system in the U.S. by the year 2003, which would put the United States on a collision course with the ABM treaty.  Clinton also said the bill imposed restrictions on the president's ability to conduct contingency operations essential to national security.

He objected also to the bill's restrictions on the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program. The program funds dismantling nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union.

He also mentioned a provision of the bill that would mandate DoD discharge HIV-positive service members, and another provision forbidding female service members from obtaining privately-funded abortions at military medical facilities overseas.

Two bills generally control and direct the operation of the Department of Defense:  the Defense Appropriations Bill and the Defense Authorization Bill. The appropriations committees of the House and Senate work on the appropriations bill, and the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House National Security Committee prepare the authorization bill.

The appropriators provide the money and the authorizers direct how DoD will spend it. In normal years, the authorization bill is passed first. This year, the appropriations bill passed first and the president signed it -- thus funding DoD. But some special pays must be authorized yearly. Also, new projects and new acquisitions must have authorization before they can begin. For example, said DoD officials, all military construction projects must have authorization before they can begin. The entire family housing project for fiscal 1996 is held up until Congress provides authorization.

DoD officials said DoD went one year -- 1961 -- without an authorization bill. They said they could do it again, but would prefer to have an authorization act.

 

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