WASHINGTON — The House voted Monday to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the $740 billion defense authorization bill, the first vote to override one of Trump’s vetoes by a chamber of Congress and a dramatic rebuke by Democrats and members of his own party.
The Senate will vote next on whether to override the veto. Trump rejected the defense bill last week after demanding language to strip liability protections for tech companies and the removal of provisions to rename military bases named after Confederate military leaders.
The National Defense Authorization Act passed both chambers of Congress this month by large enough margins to override the veto. Several members of Congress signaled in recent days that the override vote, which requires two-thirds majorities in the House and the Senate, could be close if some Republicans switch their votes to be in line with Trump.
The measure passed 322 to 87 with 109 Republicans breaking with Trump and voting in favor of the measure.
A growing number of Republicans have broken with Trump in recent weeks over his false claims of voter fraud, his refusal to concede the election and his threats to veto the Covid-19 relief and government spending bill, which would have caused a shutdown of federal agencies starting Tuesday had he not signed the measure Sunday. But Trump's strong support in the Republican Party has left many GOP lawmakers struggling over how to align themselves with him.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said Monday on MSNBC that he believes the House, which is controlled by Democrats, has the votes to override the veto, "although I never underestimate the subservience of my friends on the other side of the aisle when it comes to Donald Trump."
Trump, who spent the day golfing at his Florida resort, hasn't commented on the effort to override his veto —the ninth of his presidency.
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The Senate is expected to begin the override process Tuesday, although it could take several days for a final vote.
The annual defense bill has become law for 59 consecutive years.
The defeat came for Trump moments after the House voted to increase direct payments to Americans struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, something the president had called for in a last-minute attempt to thwart the stimulus and government funding bill. The measure, which would raise the relief from $600 per person to $2,000, narrowly passed with a vote of 275 to 134.
After passing the House, the Senate is likely to take up that issue Tuesday along with the override of the defense spending bill.