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White House threatens veto of Democrats' own defense bill

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The administration Thursday threatened that President Obama will veto the defense policy bill now being debated in the Democratic-controlled Senate, signaling the potential for another year-end fight between the White House and Congress on what’s considered must-pass legislation.

“If the bill is presented to the president for approval in its current form, the president’s senior advisers would recommend that the president veto the bill,” the White House Office and Management and Budget said in a statement sent to Congress.

Such veto threats have been common on bills coming out of the GOP-controlled House, but less common on bills winding their way through the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority and decide what legislation makes it to the floor. But the defense policy bill is one area where lawmakers from both parties feel the desire to protect their turf and assert their control over the military, which regularly produces showdowns with Republican and Democratic administrations.

The White House didn’t lay out what, specifically, would cause it to veto the bill, but it did cite a number of disagreements, including the bill’s restriction on moving suspected terrorist detainees from the facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the U.S.; conditions on reimbursement payments to Pakistan; and new demands for additional Navy fighter aircraft and upgrades to a tank that the Defense Department says it doesn’t need.

At least one of the administration’s objections — to a limitation on a biofuels requirement for military vehicles — has already been struck in a vote this week.

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