Washington, January 2
The US Congress has overwhelmingly overturned Donald Trump’s veto of the annual $740 billion defence policy bill, delivering a resounding bipartisan rebuke to the President in his final days in the White House.
The overriding of the Congressional veto – the first of his administration – is seen as a stinging rebuke to President Trump given that the Senate, which is controlled by his Republican Party, voted 81-13 against his veto of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2021.
Early this week, the House of Representatives had voted 322-87 to override Trump’s veto.
The President had vetoed the NDAA 2021 arguing that certain provisions of the bill impacted national security. He also disagreed with provisions to rename military installations bearing the names of Confederate generals.
Trump, who is set to be succeeded by President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, responded on Twitter hours after the first veto override of his presidency, saying: “Our Republican Senate just missed the opportunity to get rid of Section 230, which gives unlimited power to Big Tech companies. Pathetic!!!”
Bills passed by Congress need a President’s signature to become law.
On rare occasions, a President may choose to veto, or reject, a legislation because of some policy disagreement.
Lawmakers can override a presidential veto and enact bills into law by mustering two-thirds of votes in both chambers of Congress.
The $740.5 billion NDAA 2021 determines the annual budget of the United States.
The legislation, which has been enacted into a law every year for 60 years in a row, authorises funding and provides critical authorities for the US military to strengthen national defence and take care of the US service members and military families.
Senator Jim Inhofe, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said with this vote, the Senate had sent a strong message of support to troops by voting to make the Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA law.
“Not only does this bill give our service members and their families the resources they need, but it also makes our nation more secure — pushing back against China and Russia, strengthening our cyber defences, and accelerating innovation into the technologies that will keep our children’s children safe. I’m glad the Senate voted once again, by a wide bipartisan margin, for this bill — the most important bill we do each and every year, for 60 years in a row,” Inhofe said.
“With today’s successful veto override vote in the Senate, the Congress has prevailed despite the President’s illogical opposition to this year’s annual defence bill, and for the 60th consecutive year the NDAA has become law,” said Congressman Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Voting to override the presidential veto, Senator Mark Warner, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the annual defence bill was critical to the US national security.
“Failure to pass it would jeopardise our country’s military readiness and national defence, cybersecurity, the well-being of our US service members and their families, and more. The stakes are just too high to risk further delay,” he said.
Senator Ted Cruz, who voted against the move to override Trump’s veto of NDAA 2021, said he had several concerns over the bill.
“As it currently stands, this bill includes a host of partisan Democrat priorities unrelated to national security, and conflicts with the Constitution, like requiring the Department of Defence to rename military bases in a brazenly political attempt to erase our nation’s history,” he said.
“Additionally, the bill significantly diminishes our ability to execute military strategies, make expeditious military decisions directly related to our national security interests, and wind down endless wars by interfering with the President’s Article II authority. This bill also fails to advance much-needed reforms to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which Big Tech exploits while working hand in glove with the Democrat Party,” Cruz said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said passage of the NDAA was a serious responsibility.
“We have passed this legislation 59 years in a row, and one way or another, we are going to complete the 60th annual NDAA and pass it into law before this Congress concludes on Sunday. It’s a serious responsibility,” he said.
“But it’s also a tremendous opportunity: to direct our national security priorities to reflect the resolve of the American people and the evolving threats to their safety, at home and abroad. It’s our chance to recommit to research and development, so that our 21st-century military is equipped to outmatch any adversary,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
“The full United States Congress, with these sweeping and overwhelmingly bipartisan votes, has delivered a resounding rebuke to President Trump’s reckless assault on America’s military and national security,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. PTI