WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the annual defense policy bill, following threats to veto a measure that has broad bipartisan support in Congress and potentially establishing the first void vote for his presidency.
The bill affirms 3% salary increases for American troops and authorizes more than $ 740 billion in military and construction programs.
The action came while Trump was hiding in the White House, mulling over his electoral defeat and escalating his impasse with Republicans while pushing fraudulent conspiracy theories and trying to pressure them to support his efforts to overturn the results.
The House was prepared to return on Monday, and the Senate on Tuesday, to consider votes to override the president’s veto.
Long before issuing the veto, Trump put forward a series of justifications for rejecting it. He urged lawmakers to include limits on the social media companies he claimed were biased against him – and to remove the language that allows for the renaming of military bases, such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood, that honor the Confederate leaders. Without going into details, he said that the biggest winner of the defense project would be China.
In his veto message to the House, Trump cited these objections and stated that the measure “does not include critical national security measures, includes provisions that do not respect our veterans and the history of our armed forces, and contradicts my government’s efforts to put the United States first of all our national security and foreign policy actions. It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia. ”
He also wrote: “Numerous provisions of the Law directly contradict my government’s foreign policy, particularly my efforts to bring our troops home.
Both the House and the Senate passed the measure by margins large enough to override a veto by the president. Trump vetoed eight bills earlier, but those vetoes were upheld because supporters did not get the two-thirds of the votes needed in each chamber for the bill to become law without Trump’s signature.
Before the veto, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said the bill would help stop Chinese aggression. Other advocates of the measure, including Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the second Senate leader, and Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, a member of the House’s Armed Services Committee, posted on Twitter that the bill would contain threats from countries like China.
Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Trump’s statement that China was the biggest winner in the defense bill was false. Reed also noted the change in Trump’s explanations of the veto.
“President Trump clearly has not read the bill, nor does he understand what is in it,” said Reed. “There are a number of bipartisan provisions here that are tougher on China than the Trump administration has ever been.”
The measure guides Pentagon policy and cements decisions about troop levels, new weapon systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military objectives. Many programs can only take effect if the bill is passed, including military construction.
McConnell, in a rare break with Trump, asked for approval despite Trump’s threat to veto it. McConnell said it is important for Congress to continue its series of nearly six decades of approval of the defense policy bill.