Tuesday, June 11, 2013


White House Objects To Defence Budget Bill With ‘Conscience’ Language
Photo by Brody Levesque
By Brody Levesque | WASHINGTON -- In a Statement of Administration Policy Tuesday, the White House took exception to “conscience” language inserted into the annual major defence budget legislation. The language was inserted into the House version of the fiscal year 2014 defense authorisation bill as an amendment during the committee markup by Louisiana Republican John Fleming. 
The amendment makes subtle changes to the original text of the conscience clause, adding language protecting “actions and speech.” Critics charge that as written the amendment extends the current protections, resulting in situations where service members could go much further in promoting their anti-gay beliefs without fear of discipline.
The White House Office of Management and Budget, (OMB) says the language would undermine a commander’s authority to maintain discipline in his unit.
In its statement OMB said:
"The Administration strongly objects to section 530, which would require the Armed Forces to accommodate, except in cases of military necessity, "actions and speech" reflecting the "conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member.
By limiting the discretion of commanders to address potentially problematic speech and actions within their units, this provision would have a significant adverse effect on good order, discipline, morale, and mission accomplishment."
OMB goes on to address other concerns in the legislation, objecting to the way the defence authorisation bill “assumes adoption of the House Budget Resolution framework,” then threatening a recommendation for a presidential veto.
"While there are a number of areas of agreement with the Committee, the Administration has serious concerns with certain provisions. Several provisions would constrain the ability of the Armed Forces to align military capabilities and force structure with the President's strategy, impede the ability of the Secretary of Defense to reduce overhead and make programs more efficient... 
[...] As the Administration indicated previously, the President's senior advisers would recommend vetoing any appropriations legislation that implements the House Republican Budget framework."
The House is expected to vote on its version of NDAA this week. The Senate Armed Services Committee is set to consider its version of the legislation on Wednesday.