The Republican-led Senate remained in session on Friday, New Year’s Day, and joined the House’s decision to override President Trump’s veto of the annual defense budget. This marks the first time in his administration that Trump has had a veto overridden. The Senate’s decision comes just weeks before President Trump is slated to leave office.
The Senate met in a rare holiday session and secured the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto, with 81 votes in favor to 13 against, giving the $741 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bipartisan approval. The House had also overridden the veto on Monday by a vote of 322-87. As a result, the legislation will become law.
Trump has issued nine vetoes during his administration. The previous eight had held, but the Republican-held Senate broke with him on this one. The president, as he frequently does, took to Twitter and blasted GOP senators.
“Our Republican Senate just missed the opportunity to get rid of Section 230, which gives unlimited power to Big Tech companies. Pathetic!!! Now they want to give people ravaged by the China Virus $600, rather than the $2,000 which they so desperately need. Not fair, or smart!”
On Tuesday he also tried to spell out his reasons for the veto, when the writing was on the wall that it would be overridden.
“Say goodbye to VITAL Section 230 termination, your National Monuments, Forts (names!) and Treasures (inserted by Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren), 5G, and our great soldiers being removed and brought home from foreign lands who do NOTHING for us,” Trump said in a Twitter post.
The NDAA, which is the annual Pentagon budget bill, has traditionally been rubber-stamped into law by Congress, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. This marked the first time in six decades that an NDAA was called into question. The president rejected the $741 billion legislation due to its inclusion of a provision allowing for the renaming of military bases named after Confederate leaders.
President Trump also pushed for lawmakers to include a provision that would repeal Section 230, which is part of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 protects social-media companies from liability over content posted on their websites. The president has repeatedly claimed that social media companies, specifically Twitter and Facebook, are biased against conservatives.
NDAA 2021 contains a three percent raise for all members of the military. It also gives the Pentagon just three years to rename all of the military bases named after Confederate leaders.
The Senate adjourned later in the day on Friday before any further discussion could be held on increasing economic stimulus check payments to $2,000 from $600.
Sens. Chuck Schumer, (D-NY), Bernie Sanders, (I-VT), and Josh Hawley (R-MO), tried unsuccessfully to force a vote on the president’s call to raise stimulus checks.
Lyndon Johnson, who was president from late 1963 until 1968, remains the last president to have never had a veto override pass by Congress.
The Republican Senate had remained consistently loyal to President Trump during his administration but this time, they broke with his decision to veto the NDAA.
Back in mid-December, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke about the importance of passing NDAA 2021.
“This will unlock more than $740 billion for the training, tools, and cutting-edge equipment that our service members and civilian employees need to defend American lives and American interests,” McConnell said. “It will give our troops the 3 percent pay raise they deserve. It’ll keep our forces ready to deter China and stand strong in the Indo-Pacific.”