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The House has voted to override President Donald Trump’s veto of an annual defense spending bill, placing the final steps of defying the Republican president in the hands of the GOP-led Senate.
The measure to override Trump’s veto of the defense bill passed 322 to 87 on Monday evening. The Senate will vote next on whether to override the veto. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said his chamber would vote on overriding the veto Tuesday. The bill, known as the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, passed the House on Dec. 8. with the support of more than three-fourths of the chamber. A large majority of the GOP-controlled Senate also approved the bill, giving both chambers a higher share of yea votes than the two-thirds required to defeat a presidential veto (CNBC).
The sweeping defense bill, that authorizes a topline of $740 billion in spending and outlines Pentagon policy, typically passes with strong bipartisan support and veto-proof majorities as it funds America’s national security portfolio. It has been signed into law every year for nearly six consecutive decades. The bill’s passage, at the minimum, secures soldier pay raises and keeps crucial defense modernization programs running.
Trump’s objections to the NDAA are related to provisions in the bill that would require the U.S. military to rename bases that honored Confederate generals and limit the executive branch’s ability to recall American troops from Germany, South Korea, and Afghanistan. “The Act fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions,” Trump said in a statement to Congress following his veto (UPI).
In his veto message to Congress, Trump wrote that the NDAA failed “to make any meaningful changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.” He called on Congress to repeal the measure. The president has previously said the measure posed a serious threat to U.S. national security as well as election integrity but did not give any further explanatory details. Before it was passed, Trump had also threatened to veto the defense bill if it didn’t include a repeal of Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, which protects tech giants – a number of which he has accused of harboring anti-conservative bias – from legal liability for content posted on their platforms.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote on Twitter last week that he would not vote to override the president’s veto. Graham did not vote for the bill the first time. Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation on Dec. 15 that would end, by Jan. 1, 2023, the protections of Section 230. The House override vote means that the Senate can now take up the matter. If the Senate also votes to override Trump’s veto, it will be the first time Congress has overridden any of the nine vetoes Trump has issued during his time in office (Forbes).
The bill includes funding for major military programs and weapons systems, and authorizes dozens of special pay and bonuses for service members. However, Trump criticized it for “provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history,” by renaming military installations. Here are some of the key provisions in the $738 billion policy bill, according to the Washington Examiner:
An additional $1 billion for 12 additional Lockheed Martin F-35A jet fighters for the Air Force, along with 10 F-35B and 20 F-35C aircraft for the Marine Corp and Navy.
24 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to help address Navy strike fighter shortfalls
8 Boeing F-15EX aircraft to begin replacing aging F-15C model aircraft.
Full funding for development of the Northrop Grumman B-21 long-range bomber
$8.4 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program, which supports the nine boat, multi-year contract that the Navy and General Dynamics Electric Boat signed earlier this month.
$2.25 billion to fully support the Columbia-class (Ohio-class Replacement) Program, including an additional $123 million to support submarine industrial base expansion.
Establishes U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.
Creates a uniformed Chief of Space Operations who reports directly to the Air Force Secretary and is a member of the joint chiefs of staff.
Also adds two civilian posts: an assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration, and an assistant secretary of defense for space policy.
Requires congressional notification and a 120-day waiting period before the provision of notice of any intent to withdraw from the New START and Open Skies treaties
Bars prohibits the procurement and deployment of new ground launched missiles that were covered by the INF Treaty, which the U.S. withdrew from.
Requires an independent study on whether the U.S. should adopt a policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons.
Authorizes an additional $249.2 million for the Stryker combat vehicle medium caliber weapon system, made by General Dynamics Land Systems.
Provides $4.5 billion to continue building the Afghan security forces.
Authorizes 4,000 Special Immigrant Visas for Afghan wartime partners.
MILITARY HOUSING REFORM:
Requires the services to establish a Tenant Bill of Rights that sets minimum acceptable livability standards.
Establishes a formal dispute resolution process.
Bans use of non-disclosure agreements as a condition of moving out of military housing
Enhances protections against reprisal.
Prohibits the transfer of detainees to the U.S., or to certain other countries, constructing or modifying new detention centers in the United States, or closing or relinquishing control of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE