Defense Bill: On Friday, in a rare New Year Session, Senate passed the Defense Bill with 81-13 votes (crossing the minimum bar of attaining two-thirds majority) overruling America’s outgoing President Donald Trump’s decision. This was the first time in Trump’s presidency that his own party members voted against his decision, invalidating his veto power. The bill was passed two days before the new Congress was to be sworn in, as scheduled for Sunday.
Last week, Trump had threatened to veto the Defence Bill, also known as National Defense Authorization Act. The $740bn bill proposed multiple elements ranging from military pay rise, modernisation of equipments, programs, construction projects to geopolitical issues. Trump refused to sign the bill as it limited Trump’s power as the nation head to transfer fund towards his border wall project and his objection to renaming of American military bases, which otherwise were named after figures from the Confederacy. Besides, Trump argued that the bill did not remove Section 230, the law which protected internet companies from being held responsible for the content posted on their websites by them or third parties.
The President responded on Twitter hours after the first veto override of his presidency, saying, “Our Republican Senate just missed the opportunity to get rid of Section 230, which gives unlimited power to Big Tech companies. Pathetic!!!”
Trump while expressing his opposition with regard to the bill said “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.”
US constitution allows the president to veto a bill passed by Congress, but the lawmakers together can invalidate president’s veto power if they uphold the bill with two-thirds majority of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Trump’s veto irked his fellow Republicans who take pride in passing the defence bill every year for the past 60 years.
Mitch McConnell, a Senate leader and Kentucky Republican, who brought the bill to the floor said, “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.”
“For 60 years in a row, the NDAA has provided necessary support for our troops and national security,” Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “Today’s vote sent a clear message that Congress will not allow President Trump to stand in the way of that support, and I’m relieved the critical bipartisan priorities we fought for will become law,” he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in her own statement.“The full United States Congress, with these sweeping and overwhelmingly bipartisan votes, has delivered a resounding rebuke to President Trump’s reckless assault on America’s military and national security”.