House passes defense bill despite Trump veto threats

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Congress escalated its latest showdown with Donald Trump when the House essentially vetoed him on a sweeping military policy bill by passing the measure in defiance of the president’s repeated threats to block legislation on legal protections for people. social media companies.

The chamber approved the measure with a veto-proof majority, 335-78-1 (a Democrat voted present), on Tuesday night without addressing the language it asks to be added to remove legal protections for them. social media giants like Twitter, Facebook and others. Mr Trump maintains that these “big tech companies” are “censoring” his point of view and that of other conservatives – claiming even to have helped Joe Biden defeat him in last month’s presidential election. (That’s enough “yay” votes to override any veto that might occur.)
Ironically, the bill codifies and expands Mr. Trump’s plans to purchase new combat equipment. He campaigned for a second term, in part, after “rebuilding our army”. A veto would also block a 3% salary increase for military troops.
Only 40 Republican members joined Mr. Trump in voting against the measure, 140 supporting it. 195 Democrats voted for the passage, with 37 votes against and one present.
The outgoing president began his Tuesday by issuing his latest threat to veto the National Defense Authorization Act 2021, which has been passed by lawmakers and enacted for 59 consecutive years.
“I hope House Republicans vote against the very weak National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which I VETO. Must include a Section 230 termination (for national security purposes), preserve our national monuments, and allow 5G and Troop reduction in foreign countries! ” he wrote.
Shortly before the vote, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a formal and detailed veto threat, saying the measure “does not include critical national security measures, includes provisions that do not respect not our veterans and the history of our military, and contradicts the efforts of this administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions.
The document refers to Mr. Trump’s positions on Section 230 and the renaming of U.S. military bases from the names of Confederate leaders. Both have become market breakers for him in recent weeks. “Many provisions,” the OMB wrote, “directly contradict” Mr. Trump’s positions on national security and foreign policy, and his advisers would recommend a veto if it lands on his desk in the form adopted by Mr. Trump. bedroom.
But the Republican Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry, told the prosecution that the bill should not be overturned because of “an excuse for what is not.” While he did not refer directly to Mr. Trump by name, he said: “Our troops should not be punished because [the bill] does not solve everything that needs to be fixed. ”
Nebraska GOP Congressman Don Bacon spoke a few minutes later, saying he “agreed with the President’s concerns about Section 230 – however … it is outside the purview of this vote… and deserves its own bill.
“Do you think you’ll get a better bill in two months? He asked “The answer is no. ”
But Mr. Trump will then be a civilian, and it’s unclear whether he sees his allegations against social media companies as the kind of problem he can use once out of the office to continue fundraising with supporters and help launch a possible 2024 White House candidacy.
Mr. Trump threatened for several weeks to torpedo the legislation unless it dealt with what is colloquially known as “Section 230.”
It’s Washington’s shortcut for legal safeguards for tech companies that prevent them from being held legally responsible for the content they allow on their sites. Mr Trump has alleged for months that corporations unfairly censor conservatives and promote left-wing politicians and views. However, the president has yet to provide concrete evidence for these allegations.
The $ 740.5 billion measure is now transferred to the Senate, which is also expected to pass it this week. Mr. Trump will then have one of his last big decisions to make.
Overall, the massive authorization bill understands the whims of lawmakers and Pentagon orders regarding personnel decisions, overseas operations, and weapons programs.
In recent weeks, lawmakers have attempted to find compromise language on Section 230 that would appease Mr. Trump, but have failed to find a way out of what has become a sticky situation.
Members of the House and Senate armed services committees were already in the final stages of developing a final version of their separate versions of the NDAA when the President asked them to use it to overturn Section 230. , which did not give them enough time to come. with a solution.
Mr. Trump’s morning requests also mentioned “national monuments,” an apparent reference to Senate-crafted language that would establish a process to remove the names of Confederate leaders from U.S. military institutions.
The president wants this provision removed, arguing that the country should not face its past of civil war by renaming bases and removing statues of Confederate officials.
He is “very opposed to the Warren Amendment,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters, referring to the president and a provision that Senate Armed Services Committee member Elizabeth Warren, pushed to add to the measure on the basic Confederate names.
Some Conservative lawmakers with Mr. Trump’s ear pushed him on both Section 230 and the Warren provision, urging him to veto the bill.
“The NDAA does not contain any Section 230 reform, but contains Elizabeth Warren’s social engineering amendment to unilaterally rename bases and war memorials without public participation or processes,” Missouri Senator Josh Hawley tweeted . “I can’t support him. ”
But the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, James Inhofe, does so, calling the provisions of the Confederate bases the result of a bipartisan compromise.
“It hasn’t changed and quite frankly it’s a good thing it’s there because that language would block the fact that for about three years it would appoint a commission in which we would participate a lot,” he said. he said last week. .
“I’m glad the language is there because it’s a way of delaying closures and relocating facilities,” he said, adding that he had spoken with Mr. Trump and was “ agree with that ”.
But the president is taking a different public stance, jeopardizing the annual military policy bill for the first time in six decades.
Even some allies in the president’s GOP are signaling they would reverse any coming veto and support a measure to reverse it.
Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy told Fox News on Tuesday that he was inclined to “always vote for the troops and vote for our national security,” saying he would rather “look for another way to solve the problems of the article 230 ”.
Lawmakers would need a two-thirds majority in both houses to overturn a Trump veto.
President Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats said on Tuesday that they hope that doesn’t happen.
” I hope not. … Urge the president to show respect… for the sacrifices of our military, ”the California Democrat said in her own speech. “I hope it will be promulgated quickly.”

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