Happy New Year: Congress Overrides Trump Veto on Defense Bill

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Posted: Jan 01, 2021 2:49 PM
Happy New Year: Congress Overrides Trump Veto on Defense Bill

Source: AP Photo/Julio Cortez

President Trump threatened to do it. He said he would veto the defense bill if it didn’t include a provision that repealed section 230, which offers a legal shield to social media companies from lawsuits based on posts from their platforms. He followed through on that threat on December 23, but it’s was mostly a symbolic gesture. The bill passed the House and the Senate with veto-proof majorities (via CNBC):

President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the sweeping defense bill that authorizes a topline of $740 billion in spending and outlines Pentagon policy.

[…]

This year’s 4,517-page defense bill, which typically passes with strong bipartisan support and veto-proof majorities, funds America’s national security portfolio. It has been signed into law for nearly six consecutive decades.

The bill’s passage, at the minimum, secures soldier pay raises and keeps crucial defense modernization programs running.

[…]

Trump threatened earlier this month to veto the mammoth defense bill if lawmakers did not include a measure to eliminate Section 230.

He has repeatedly accused Twitter, his social media platform of choice, of unfairly censoring him.

On December 29, the House voted to override the veto by a 322-87 vote. Now, as we usher in 2021, the Senate voted 81-13 today to hand the president his first veto override. This was bound to happen. It’s not shocking, though Axios reported that some Republicans wondered if it was a smart move to issue a veto threat by demanding to include something unrelated into a defense spending bill:

The override also just days after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) defied Trump's call for increased increased coronavirus relief payments by effectively killing a House-approved standalone measure for $2,000 stimulus checks.

McConnell said he has no intention of splitting apart a broader package that combines the checks with Trump's demands for an election fraud commission and the repeal of Section 230 — two no-gos for Democrats.

What they're saying: Though multiple Republicans supported Trump's efforts to repeal Section 230 because of an alleged anti-conservative bias by tech companies, they also insisted it didn't make sense to tie the repeal to the NDAA.

"President [Trump] is right—Big Tech needs to be reined in and I will vote with the President when Section 230 reform is on the Senate floor," Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC.) tweeted during the vote.

"And while I vote today to fund America’s military—our first and last line of defense—I will also stand with the President to ensure we have the votes to reform Section 230 and keep social media companies accountable to the will of the people."

We have the Georgia runoffs on Tuesday, January 5 and the certification of the 2020 Electoral College results on January 6. Here we go.