McConnell suddenly thinks it's fine to pass a bill Trump opposes

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Mitch McConnell plans to bring up for a vote in the Senate a defense authorization bill that Donald Trump has vowed to veto.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he will bring up for a vote in the Senate the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, even though Donald Trump has vowed to veto it if it passes.

Until now, McConnell had repeatedly refused to let the Senate vote on other legislation that Trump opposed, saying he wouldn't "waste time" on them.

A conference committee agreed to a deal last week on the must-pass annual legislation that establishes the funding levels and policies for the nation's defense, resolving differences between the Senate's and the House of Representatives' versions of the bill. The House is expected to approve it on Tuesday, with bipartisan support.

McConnell (R-KY) told colleagues he plans to call for a vote this week as well. "We also expect to receive and pass a conference report on the annual defense authorization," he said in a floor speech. He made no mention of Trump's many threats to veto the bill.

Trump is upset that the bill contains a provision to rename U.S. military bases that currently honor Confederate figures. "I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth 'Pocahontas' Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars, is in the Bill!" he vowed in June.

In recent weeks, he suggested he would sign the bill despite the provision if Congress attached unrelated legislation to punish social media companies he believes are being unfair to conservatives.

"I hope House Republicans will vote against the very weak National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which I will VETO. Must include a termination of Section 230 (for National Security purposes), preserve our National Monuments, & allow for 5G & troupe reductions in foreign lands!" Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning.

A spokesperson for McConnell did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

While McConnell is ignoring Trump's veto threat, he has previously refused to bring up other bipartisan legislation that Trump was against, including, just last week, a bipartisan compromise pandemic relief bill.

"We just don't have time to waste time," McConnell told reporters last week. "It requires a presidential signature and this government is in place, for sure, for the next month and I think the place to start is: 'Are we actually making a law or are we just making a point?' And I think the way to make a law, for sure, is you know you've got a presidential signature."

McConnell used the same argument last year to block consideration of gun legislation after a series of mass shootings.

"If the President is in favor of a number of things that he has discussed openly and publicly, and I know that if we pass it, it will become law, I'll put it on the floor," he said in September 2019. "I said a few weeks ago that if the President took a position on a bill so that we knew we would actually be making a law and not just having serial votes, I would be happy to put it on the floor and the administration is in the process of studying what they are prepared to support if anything." Trump quickly abandoned his promise to seek bipartisan legislation to counter gun violence, and the Senate did nothing.

For the past two years, McConnell has used his position as Senate majority leader to block hundreds of bills passed by the Democratic-controlled House from ever making it to Trump's desk. "It is true. They've been on full left-wing parade over there, trotting out all of their left-wing solutions that are going to be issues in the fall campaign," McConnell admitted in February. "We're not gonna pass those."

If Trump followed through with his promise to veto the authorization bill, Congress could override him with two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.