House votes to override Trump’s veto of defense bill
WASHINGTON - The Democrat-controlled House secured enough votes to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act Monday.
The vote became the first successful veto override of Trump’s presidency.
Trump rejected the defense bill last week, saying it failed to impose new rules on social media companies he claims were biased against him during his failed reelection campaign. Trump also opposed language that allows for the renaming of military bases that honor Confederate leaders.
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In his veto message, Trump also said the bill restricts his ability to conduct foreign policy, "particularly my efforts to bring our troops home.'' Trump was referring to provisions in the bill that impose conditions on his plan to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan and Germany. The measures require the Pentagon to submit reports certifying that the proposed withdrawals would not jeopardize U.S. national security.
The defense bill affirms 3% pay raises for U.S. troops and authorizes more than $740 billion in military programs and construction and has broad bipartisan support in Congress.
U.S. President Donald Trump climbs into golf cart number 45 as he golfs at Trump National Golf Club on December 13, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia.
Trump’s veto of the NDAA provoked swift condemnation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called the veto it "an act of staggering recklessness that harms our troops, endangers our security and undermines the will of the bipartisan Congress."
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the bill "absolutely vital to our national security and our troops,'' adding, "Our men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform shouldn’t be denied what they need — ever."
Both the House and Senate passed the measure by margins large enough to override a presidential veto. Trump has vetoed eight other bills, but those were all sustained because supporters did not gain the two-thirds vote needed in each chamber for the bills to become law without Trump’s signature.
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The measure guides Pentagon policy and cements decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, personnel policy and other military goals. Many programs, including military construction, can only go into effect if the bill is approved.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a rare break with Trump, had urged passage of the defense bill despite Trump’s veto threat. McConnell said it was important for Congress to continue its nearly six-decade-long streak of passing the defense policy bill.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.