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Republicans in Congress finally find a reason to stand up to Trump

Supermajorities in the House and Senate voted to pass the annual defense authorization, despite Trump’s veto threats.

By Josh Israel - December 11, 2020
Donald Trump

A supermajority in the Senate and House have voted to pass the annual defense authorization bill, ignoring angry veto threats from Donald Trump.

On Friday, 84 senators voted for the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act legislation. Republican senators backed the conference report by a 42 to 7 vote.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted by 335-78 in favor of the bill, with one member voting “present.” Republican members supported the bill by a lopsided 140-40 majority.

The $731.6 billion legislation sets funding levels and policies for the nation’s defense for 2021 and authorizes pay increases for armed service members.

Despite its bipartisan support, Trump repeatedly objected to the bill because it includes a provision renaming military bases that honor Confederate figures from the Civil War.

“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 tweeted in June.

More recently, he offered to overlook its anti-Confederate provisions if Congress added unrelated provisions to penalize social media companies that he believes are unfair to conservatives — but Congress did not bite.

Hours before the House voted, Trump tweeted: “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!”

Section 230 is a provision in the Communications Decency Act of 1996 which essentially shields social media and internet companies from being held liable for what their users post online. Trump has criticized the provision in the past, even going so far as to sign an executive order back in May aimed at rolling back some of the protections Section 230 affords social media companies.

“Online platforms are engaging in selective censorship that is harming our national discourse,” the order read, in part. Trump notably signed it shortly after Twitter, for the first time, chose to fact check as misleading one of his tweets in which he falsely claimed mail-in voting constituted fraud.

Unlike prior to Trump’s election defeat last month, few GOP legislators followed his demands this time.

On Tuesday, Trump’s White House put out an official Statement of Administration Policy opposing the legislation and recommending Trump veto it. He now has up to 10 days — not including Sundays — to do so.

If he does, Congress can override his veto with two-thirds supermajorities in the House and Senate.

If all of the lawmakers who backed the bill this week vote back an override, it would have sufficient support, but at least some Republican supporters of the bill have suggested they might sustain a potential veto.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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