President Trump Vetoes $740 Billion Defense Bill - Setting Up Override Vote

U.S. President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on 5 October 2020 in Washington DC

President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the $740.5 billion USA defense policy bill, touching off a battle with Congress that could end in his first override by lawmakers, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promising action next week.

The now-vetoed bill would secure a 3% pay increase for USA service members and ensure that defense modernization programs are up and running.

The action came while Trump was holed up at the White House, stewing about his election loss and escalating his standoff with Republicans as he pushed fraudulent conspiracy theories and tried to pressure them to back his efforts to overturn the results.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday the House would return on December 28 to vote on whether to override Mr Trump's veto.

By choosing to veto the NDAA, Trump has made it clear that he does not care about the needs of United States military personnel and their families, said Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Earlier this month, Trump also threatened to veto the 4,517-page defense bill if lawmakers failed to include a measure that eliminated Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides protections to social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from being held liable for posts generated by users. Without going into detail, he has claimed the biggest victor from the defense bill would be China. It would mean Republican allies of the president would have to oppose him in what would be Trump's first of nine vetoes that would not be upheld, in what would be one of the final acts of this Congress during this presidency.

Without the changes to Section 230, Trump said, the NDAA "is a "gift" to China and Russian Federation".

Both the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-majority House of Representatives passed the 2021 NDAA with margins larger than the two-thirds majorities needed to override a veto.

"Mr President, sign the bill to keep government open!"

"Like all compromises, this is far from flawless", Mr Biden said.

In an accompanying letter to his fellow Republicans, McCarthy asserted that Republicans had tried to pass a stimulus bill more than 40 times but were unsuccessful until this week because Pelosi "tried to use the American people as leverage to make coronavirus relief contingent on government funding - which includes billions of foreign aid [dollars] at a time when there are urgent needs at home". Other GOP backers of the measure, including Sen.

The Senate cleared the huge relief package by a 92-6 vote after the House approved it by 359-53.

Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said Trump's declaration that China was the biggest victor in the defense bill was false. It also authorizes funding for 93 F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp. after the Trump administration requested 79.

President Donald Trump left DC on Wednesday to spend the holidays at his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, a day before Congress is set to consider $2,000 stimulus checks as part of the COVID-19 relief package.

"Our government's top priority must be our families, communities, and small businesses as we get through this pandemic and restore our country", McCarthy wrote.

Other reasons for the veto included the renaming of military installations that honored Confederate leaders, a hot topic issue that Trump previously clashed on with former US Defense Secretary Mark Esper when the latter effectively banned the display of the Confederate battle flag at US defense sites. Many programs can only go into effect if the bill is approved, including military construction.

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