He’s a millionaire who rakes in nearly half-a-million dollars a year and has all his living expenses paid for.
But President Barack Obama has announced he’s going to veto a defense bill that would give a tiny 1.3 percent pay raise to our soldiers.
As president, Obama commands a salary of $477,000 a year (plus plenty of perks) and is worth an estimated $7 million — a number that is certain to skyrocket once he leaves office.
A starting private in the Army makes about $18,000 a year.
But Obama apparently isn’t as interested in our troops’ pay, calling the bipartisan defense bill heading to his desk a “funding gimmick.”
The White House says Obama will veto a sweeping $612 billion defense policy bill Thursday afternoon, citing objections over how the measure is funded.
It’s the first time Obama has rejected the measure. Presidents have signed the bipartisan bill into law annually for more than 50 years.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the president’s desire to veto the bill is “outrageous” in the light of national security threats.
“I wish I could say it surprised me that President Obama might — for the sake of unrelated partisan games — actually contemplate vetoing a bipartisan defense bill that contains the level of funding authorization he asked for,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “I’m calling on him not to, especially in times like these.”
Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said it was a good bill. He cited 60 provisions aimed at helping streamline defense acquisitions. He said other parts of the bill would help the Defense Department keep pace with changing technology, combat cyberattacks and provides key funding for the war in Afghanistan, the fight against Islamic State militants and Ukraine forces fighting Russian-backed rebels.
Among other things, this year’s bill provides:
—a 1.3 percent pay increase to service members and a new retirement option for troops;
—authorizes lethal assistance to Ukraine forces fighting Russian-backed rebels;
—extends the ban on torture to the CIA;
—authorizes the president’s request of $715 million to help Iraqi forces fight Islamic State militants;
—authorizes $600 million for the beleaguered U.S.-led program to train and equip moderate elements of the Syrian opposition force, but requires the defense secretary to get congressional approval each time he wants to use money for the program;
—maintains restrictions on transferring terror suspects out of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba., hampering Obama’s effort to close the facility; and
—directs the defense secretary to issue a policy to empower individual post commanders to decide whether members of the armed forces can carry government-issued or personal fire arms at military installations, reserve centers and recruiting centers. This provision follows shootings in Little Rock, Arkansas; Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Fort Hood, Texas.
The Associated Press contributed to this article