The White House lifted a veto threat of the defense authorization bill, staving off a potential showdown with Congress on the issue of detainees.
The House is scheduled to vote on the measure today, and the Senate is expected to act by the end of the week. Late this afternoon, House Republicans were meeting to round up the last votes needed to approve the bill.
“While we remain concerned about the uncertainty that this law will create for our counterterrorism professionals, the most recent changes give the president additional discretion in determining how the law will be implemented, consistent with our values and the rule of law, which are at the heart of our country’s strength,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.
President Barack Obama had threatened to veto the defense bill over concerns that it would interfere with FBI investigations. The House and Senate conferees, who approved their report Monday night, said they worked to address those concerns with FBI Director Robert Mueller and prevent a veto.
While Congress averted a showdown with the White House for now, Carney did note that “if in the process of implementing this law we determine that it will negatively impact our counterterrorism professionals and undercut our commitment to the rule of law, we expect that the authors of these provisions will work quickly and tirelessly to correct these problems.”
Human-rights organizations nevertheless remain opposed to the measure because they charge it would allow for the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, including Americans, without a trial. In a statement issued right after the White House announcement, Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino complained that “the American people need a leader whose commitment to smart national security policies will not wane in the face of opposition from Capitol Hill.”
Obama spent part of today speaking to troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., about the pullout of American troops from Iraq.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.