For the first time in his presidency, the Senate has overruled President Trump’s veto of a House of Representatives-approved defense spending bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act. The repudiation of Trump’s veto in his final days in office came during a rare New Year’s Day session to debate the $740 billion bill that will fund domestic defense for the forthcoming year. This development comes two days before a new Congress is set to be sworn in.
President Trump had objected to certain aspects of the bill, which contains provisions for raising the pay of American soldiers and modernizing military equipment. The foremost issue Trump had with the bill was not related to the military at all; he wanted the bill to include a repeal of Section 230, which shields internet companies from prosecution.
Trump faced opposition from fellow Republican and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who expressed his desire to make sure the bill was passed. “Here’s what the Senate is focused on – completing the annual defense legislation that looks after our brave men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform. We’ve passed this legislation 59 years in a row. And one way or another, we’re going to complete the 60th annual NDAA and pass it into law before this Congress concludes on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was particularly harsh on her longtime rival’s attempt at blocking the bill, saying Trump’s veto was “an act of staggering recklessness that harms our troops, endangers our security and undermines the will of the bipartisan Congress.”
Trump also took issue with the bill’s limiting of spending on his border wall with Mexico, and attempts to rename bases dedicated to generals of the Confederacy. Speaking on renaming military bases, Trump said in a statement, “I have been clear in my opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to wash away history and to dishonor the immense progress our country has fought for in realizing our founding principles.”
In the end, Trump’s attempt to block the bill proved futile. The Senate voted 81-13 in favor of the bill, which is far in excess of the two-thirds majority that was needed. This signifies a decisive and somewhat surprising bipartisan rejection of Trump’s desire to strong-arm the law to his will.
Reacting to the Senate’s rejection of his veto, Trump tweeted, “Our Republican Senate just missed the opportunity to get rid of Section 230, which gives unlimited power to Big Tech companies. Pathetic!!! Now they want to give people ravaged by the China Virus $600, rather than the $2000 which they so desperately need. Not fair, or smart!”