House overrides Trump’s veto of $740 billion defense funding bill

Author: CBS News
Published: Updated:
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 26: The US Capitol Building is seen past the Washington Monument as the sun sets on December 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers in Congress are continuing to work on the coronavirus relief package following President Donald Trump’s threat to veto the bill despite it being passed in the House and Senate by overwhelming majorities. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) via CBS News.

The House of Representatives on Monday overrode President Trump’s veto of an annual must-pass defense policy bill, teeing up what could be the first time Congress overrides a veto from Mr. Trump only weeks before he leaves office. The final vote was 322-87.

The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, passed both the House and Senate earlier this month with support from more than two-thirds of each chamber, clearing the thresholds needed to set aside Mr. Trump’s veto. The Senate is scheduled to meet Tuesday to begin the process of taking up the matter.

The $740 billion defense bill provides funding for military programs and construction projects, and authorizes a 3% pay raise for troops. Congressman Mac Thornberry of Texas, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said on the House floor on Monday that he continues to “support this bill” and urged other members of Congress to as well.

“This vote is about supporting our troops and defending America,” Thornberry said. “While not perfect, this bill does a good job of advancing and should be supported.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had harsh words for Mr. Trump.

“The president must end his eleventh-hour campaign of chaos, and stop using his final moments in office to obstruct bipartisan and bicameral action to protect our military and defend our security,” she said in a statement.

In the weeks leading up to its passage, Mr. Trump raised objections with the measure because it leaves untouched a federal law, known as Section 230, that provides a powerful legal shield for internet companies. The president also took issue with a provision of the bill that requires the Pentagon to rename military facilities and bases named for Confederate leaders.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle urged Mr. Trump to sign the sweeping defense bill, which has become law for 59 years straight. But the president followed through on his threat to veto the measure last week, citing Congress’s “failure to terminate the very dangerous national security risk of Section 230.”

Section 230 is a provision of the Communications Decency Act that shields internet companies from liability for content posted to their platforms by third parties. The measure has become a political football, as Republicans and Mr. Trump believe it has been used by social media companies to censor conservative viewpoints and voices.

While GOP lawmakers agree with the president that Section 230 should be changed, some argue the NDAA is not the proper vehicle to roll back the 24-year-old law.

“The NDAA has become law every year for 59 years straight because it’s absolutely vital to our national security and our troops. This year must not be an exception,” Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement following the president’s veto of the defense bill. Inhofe added that Congress “can and should use another legislative vehicle to repeal Section 230.”

It remains unclear how many Republicans in the House will break with Mr. Trump and vote to overcome his veto. The House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservatives, has pledged to support the president’s rejection of the defense bill, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters earlier this month he would sustain Mr. Trump’s veto despite voting in favor of the legislation.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

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