For the first time in Trump’s tenure, House overrides presidential veto of defense spending bill

Congress stands on the verge of overriding for the first time one of the rare legislative vetoes issued during President Donald Trump’s tenure in office, this time with regard to the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act, the Washington Examiner reported.

On Monday, the House easily cleared the two-thirds majority necessary to override Trump’s veto of the annual defense spending bill, and it is widely expected that the Senate will do the same later this week.

Trump issues veto of NDAA bill

On Dec. 23, the White House issued a message detailing why the president had rejected the bill funding the military for the next fiscal year. The president had repeatedly threatened to veto it if it didn’t address several specific concerns that he had made clear on numerous occasions while the bill was still being debated and written.

“Unfortunately, the Act fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions. It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia,” Trump said in the veto message.

Those unaddressed concerns of the president included a failure to repeal or reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides unique liability protections to Big Tech firms and social media platforms. Also at issue were provisions regarding the renaming of military bases that bore the names of Confederate generals, limits to how the president could use military funds during national emergencies, a slowdown of the rollout of 5G network coverage in rural areas, and a block of Trump’s efforts to bring American troops home from conflict zones and perpetual deployments around the globe.

“For all of these reasons, I cannot support this bill. My Administration has taken strong actions to help keep our Nation safe and support our service members. I will not approve this bill, which would put the interests of the Washington, D.C. establishment over those of the American people. It is my duty to return H.R. 6395 to the House of Representatives without my approval,” Trump concluded.

Trump hammers his objections

The veto message predictably sparked an uproar among the political and media establishments, prompting Trump to tweet out a reminder several days later of the reasons why he felt the need to reject the important funding bill in the first place. “Our $740 defense bill is a gift to China, Russia & Big Tech. It fails to terminate the internationally dangerous Section 230, won’t allow us to bring our troops back home (where they belong), renames & destroys our forts & National Monuments, & makes 5G almost impossible!” he tweeted Saturday.

The president’s message was quite a bit more forceful Tuesday morning following the House override vote, which was only possible with the assistance of many House Republicans.

“Weak and tired Republican ‘leadership’ will allow the bad Defense Bill to pass. Say goodbye to VITAL Section 230 termination, your National Monuments, Forts (names!) and Treasures (inserted by Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren), 5G, and our great soldiers … being removed and brought home from foreign lands who do NOTHING for us. A disgraceful act of cowardice and total submission by weak people to Big Tech. Negotiate a better Bill, or get better leaders, NOW! Senate should not approve NDAA until fixed!!!” Trump tweeted in a two-part missive.

Senate expected to override veto

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday of the NDAA on the Senate floor, “The House voted to reapprove the conference report on this must-pass legislation. Today the Senate will set up a final vote for tomorrow, Wednesday, with this chamber to follow suit,” The Hill reported.

That vote may not be held as planned, however, in the latest example of strange political bedfellows in D.C.

Progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has vowed to filibuster the veto override vote until McConnell allows for a vote on a separate measure, also requested by Trump, to increase the coronavirus direct assistance payments in the recent relief package from $600 to $2,000.

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