Veto-proof defense bill

When President Barack Obama can blame a “government shutdown” on conservatives in Congress, he spares no demagoguery in portraying them as arch-villains. But when it comes to funding for national defense, that’s different.

An appropriations bill for the Department of Defense was approved a few days ago by the Senate – in a 70-27 bipartisan vote. Obama does not like the measure and has vowed to veto it if the House of Representatives passes the same bill.

It is not the amount – $612 billion – that annoys the president. Funding in the Senate bill is approximately what the White House has requested.

But Obama is up in arms about how the money would be doled out. Specifically, he claims part of the Senate bill could allow the Pentagon to avoid spending cuts required by the “sequestration” law.

Because the bill has widespread bipartisan support, however, a presidential veto could result in something of a “defense shutdown” – though, as is the case when other branches of government are involved, essential spending would proceed.

Still, Obama’s stance makes it clear he views national security as less important than other functions of government. He is wrong about that, of course – and the House should remind him of his primary duty to Americans by passing the Senate bill by a veto-proof majority.