Trump Handed Defeat as Congress Overrides Defense Bill Veto

Friday - 01/01/2021 23:56
President Donald TrumpPhotographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
President Donald TrumpPhotographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
The president and others on the right have long accused social media platforms of censoring conservatives, something that the technology giants deny.

Congress handed Donald Trump a major, bipartisan defeat in the waning days of his presidency, as the Republican-led Senate voted to override his veto of a $740.5 billion defense policy bill.

It’s the first time one of Trump’s vetoes has been surmounted. On Twitter, in his first response to the override, Trump said the Senate “missed an opportunity,” terming the effort “Pathetic!!”

The final tally was 81 to 13, easily exceeding the two-thirds threshold needed to override a veto, with support coming from both Republicans and Democrats as it did earlier in the House. The massive annual defense authorization measure now will become law.

Trump had sought to intimidate GOP senators into voting to sustain his veto, unleashing a bitter attack on fellow Republicans as the chamber prepared to begin the override process.

“Weak and tired Republican ‘leadership’ will allow the bad Defense Bill to pass,” Trump tweeted Dec. 29. “Negotiate a better Bill, or get better leaders, NOW!” he added. On Saturday, Trump attacked Senator John Thune for a second time, suggesting that Governor Kristin Noem run against the Senate’s No. 2 Republican in a 2022 South Dakota primary.

File:The Best Of U.S. President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Friday, before the final vote, Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, urged “all of our colleagues” to override Trump’s veto. Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and typically a Trump ally, called the annual defense bill “the most significant vote we have” and praised the bipartisan spirit that went into it.

The Senate vote followed the House’s 322-87 vote on Dec. 28. Senate leaders had to overcome procedural hurdles after several senators, led by Bernie Sanders of Vermont, refused to give unanimous consent to proceed to the override vote -- part of their effort to increase pandemic aid to $2,000 a person from $600. In the tangled politics of the moment, that increase has been championed by Trump and opposed by many Republicans.

The votes to override Trump’s veto reflects a widening rift between the president and some congressional Republicans, who stood by him through previous conflicts, as his influence ebbs. More GOP lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in recent weeks recognized Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election.

‘Not an Option’

“Not once in six decades has a Congress let its differences prevent it from completing this work for our national security and our men and women who wear the uniform,” McConnell said Tuesday on the Senate floor in backing the veto override. “For the brave men and women of the United States armed forces, failure is simply not an option. So when it’s our turn in Congress to have their backs, failure is not an option either.”

Although many of Trump’s voters remain loyal to the president, a number of Republican lawmakers share concerns over his recent behavior. The split comes at a dangerous time politically for the GOP -- just days before two runoff races in Georgia that will determine control of the Senate.

Trump vetoed the annual defense measure, in part, because he wanted to attach an unrelated provision to eliminate Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects technology companies from liability for most content published by their users. He cited Section 230 in Saturday’s Twitter post, saying it “gives unlimited power to Big Tech companies.”

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 Keywords: Donald Trump

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