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Amid July Fourth threat, GOP pushes for defense funding

As Americans celebrate the Independence Day weekend on heightened guard over possible "lone-wolf" terror threats, the Republican Party is pushing for a defense funding measure they say will support U.S. troops in their fight to protect the country.

"Too much is at stake right now to let our differences get in the way of our work to protect freedom," Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, said in a video Saturday. "America's men and women who serve our country make up the greatest force for good this world has ever known. They deserve our unwavering support on Independence Day and every other day."

GOP: Senate stalling on defense funding "risks serious damage" to national security

Last month, the Senate passed a defense policy bill that the White House repeatedly threatened to veto. The bill provides a pay increase for troops, gives $3.8 billion to Afghan security forces and prevents a round of military base closures, among other measures. But immediately after the Senate vote passing it, Democrats blocked a bill that actually provides the funds for the Pentagon.

"Sadly, some members of the president's party are trying to block this critical measure," Hurd said. "They think that by playing political games, they can extract more funding for unrelated federal agencies like the IRS and the EPA."

It's a familiar refrain that the Republican Party has used to frame the defense budget battle.

Last week, Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Montana, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, said that the president's party plans "to hold our troops hostage" in exchange for more domestic spending.

Democrats, however, don't agree with the defense bill because it funnels billions of dollars into an emergency war fund exempt from congressional spending caps.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has taken a vehement stance against "doing funny money" on defense spending, saying that the GOP was taking away necessary funding from federal agencies like the FBI and National Institutes of Health.

But Republicans say that the threat to American security is too great to take lightly.

"Today we face enemies around the world that are more determined than ever. They have no intention of giving up their pursuit of nuclear weapons or the violence, fear and hate they use to cling to power," Hurd said. "So as we celebrate this Independence Day, let's recommit ourselves to supporting our troops, supporting our intelligence professionals and winning this fight."

Obama thanks troops, civil rights leaders on July 4 weekend

In his own video, President Obama also addressed the troops defending America, praising them for their dedication to the country's founding ideals.

"On this most American of holidays, we remember that all who serve here at home and overseas represent what today is all about," the president said Saturday in a video. "And we remember that their families serve, too. We are so grateful for their service and for their sacrifice."

The president also extended his thanks to those on the front lines of the civil rights battles, particularly those who ensured the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness "apply to every single American."

"Folks have fought, marched, protested, even died for that endeavor, proving that as Americans, our destiny is not written for us, but by us," the president said.

"We honor everyone who continually strives to make this country a better, stronger, more inclusive and more hopeful place," Mr. Obama said. "We, the people, pledge to make their task our own - to secure the promise of our founding words for our own children and our children's children."

The president will be holding an Independence Day barbecue at the White House on Saturday for several hundred military servicemen and women and their families.

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