Trump vetoes major defense bill despite overwhelming Republican Party support

Trump had previously threatened to veto the defense bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, because it does not include the repeal of Section 230, a law that protects internet companies from liability for what is posted on their websites by them or third parties.

The bill includes provisions to limit the amount of money Trump can move to his border wall and one that would require the military to rename bases that were named after Confederate figures.

“Unfortunately,” wrote the president in his veto message to Congress, “the law does not include critical national security measures, includes provisions that do not respect our veterans and the history of our military and contradicts my government’s efforts to place states United first in our national security and foreign policy actions. It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia. “

Trump’s veto prompted an immediate rebuke from Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who said the defense bill should become law.

“The NDAA has become law every year for 59 consecutive years because it is absolutely vital to our national security and our troops. This year shouldn’t be an exception. Our men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform shouldn’t have what they need. – always, “Inhofe tweeted.

The Oklahoma Republican also said that the defense project “consolidates all the remarkable gains our military has made thanks to @realDonaldTrump’s leadership”, adding, “I hope all my colleagues in Congress will join me to ensure that our troops have the resources and equipment they need to defend this nation. “

Democratic Senator Mark Warner, vice president of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that Trump’s veto “represents a serious threat to the national security of the United States.”

“I look forward to ignoring the president’s fruitless and ridiculous attempt to undermine our national security because of his change of justification for his veto decision, including a clause to rename bases that honor Confederate military leaders – a clause that many in the party itself. president supported, “said the Virginia Democrat in a statement.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the huge funding bill with a veto-proof majority of 84 to 13, a strong rebuke to the president. Trump’s position on the bill severely divided Republican lawmakers, forcing them to choose between loyalty to the president and legislation that defines the country’s defense policy. The Chamber of Deputies also recently approved the bill by a veto-proof majority.

It is unclear whether Republicans will challenge the president again and vote to override his veto. Several House lawmakers, including the Democrat and Republican on the House’s Armed Services Committee, however, have said previously that they will shorten their holidays for Congress to return to Washington to override a veto, if necessary.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized Trump’s veto as “an act of incredible recklessness” in a statement on Wednesday and said the House will take on the veto on December 28.

The $ 740 billion bill also includes salary increases for American soldiers, equipment upgrades and provisions to demand further scrutiny before troops are withdrawn from Germany or Afghanistan.

Trump highlighted Section 230 in his message, calling it “a very dangerous national security risk”.

He also went after requirements to change the names of military installations to the names of Confederate soldiers and slave owners.

“Throughout the history of the United States, these places have taken on a meaning for American history and for those who helped write it, which go far beyond their namesakes,” said Trump. “My government respects the legacy of millions of American soldiers and women who served with honor in these military bases and who, from those places, fought, bled and died for their country. From these facilities, we won two World Wars. I have been clear in my as opposed to politically motivated attempts like this to wash history and dishonor the immense progress that our country has been fighting for in realizing our fundamental principles, “says the message.

The president also said the act “directly contradicts my government’s foreign policy, particularly my efforts to bring our troops home. I oppose endless wars, as do the American public.”

While Trump’s earlier veto threats have drawn a swift and sharp bipartisan reaction from lawmakers who have argued that he is using influence over troops to settle personal accounts, he has received vocal support from some allies.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, supported the president in his push to remove Section 230.

“I support President @realDonaldTrump’s insistence that the repeal of Section 230 be part of the defense authorization bill,” he wrote in a three-tweet topic. “Big Tech is the only industry in America that cannot be prosecuted for its business practices and is not significantly regulated. This should come to an end.”

Conservative House Freedom Caucus announced before the House vote that its members will side with Trump in their opposition to the legislation and was pressuring other Republican Party members to side with Trump as well.

This story has been updated with further developments.

Lauren Fox contributed to this story.