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Trump vetoes military spending bill, setting up standoff with GOP lawmakers

Congress has until Jan. 2 to override the veto, which would be the first during the Trump administration.
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President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the annual military spending bill because it did not modify a law that provides liability protections to tech companies and would have authorized the renaming of military bases named for Confederate generals.

The veto, which Trump had threatened for weeks, sets up a showdown with fellow Republicans, who must now decide if they will override his decision.

The National Defense Authorization Act passed both chambers of Congress by margins large enough to override the veto, though some Republicans may decide against challenging the president. Congress has until Jan. 2 to override the veto, which would be the first during the Trump administration.

The NDAA has been enacted to provide for military operations and continue operations for more than a half-century.

"Your failure to terminate the very dangerous national security risk of Section 230 will make our intelligence virtually impossible to conduct without everyone knowing what we are doing at every step," Trump said in a statement. Railing against renaming military bases, Trump added he has made clear his "opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to wash away history and to dishonor the immense progress our country has fought for in realizing our founding principles."

The president, with less than 30 days remaining in his term, wrote that "numerous provisions" in the more than $740 billion bill "directly contradict my administration's foreign policy, particularly my efforts to bring our troops home."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., lambasted the president for vetoing legislation that provides pay for members of the military.

"Donald Trump just vetoed a pay raise for our troops so he can defend dead Confederate traitors," Schumer tweeted. "Democrats will vote to override it."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that the House will hold an override vote on the president's veto Monday.

"In a time when our country was just targeted with a massive cyberattack, it is particularly hard to understand the reasoning behind the president’s irresponsibility," Pelosi said. "Disturbingly, Trump is using his final hours in office to sow chaos, including by denying our servicemembers a long-overdue pay raise and hazard duty pay; our families paid family leave, child care, housing and health protections; and our veterans the benefits that they need and deserve."

"Trump’s veto violates our national values, as it would block action to rename military bases and infrastructure named after those who served in the Confederacy — which is supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people, by House and Senate Democrats and Republicans and by our servicemembers and top military leaders," she continued.

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The president earlier this month made clear his intention to veto the legislation, tweeting that the bill "must have Section 230 termination, protect our National Monuments and allow for removal of military from far away, and very unappreciative, lands."

Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act protects social media companies that allow user content on their platforms from being sued over messages their users post. While a number of lawmakers have pushed for changes to the law, experts say its removal — which would open up the companies to a flood of lawsuits — would lead to more restrictive content moderation, not less.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, called on Congress to repeal the provision so that Trump will sign the bill.

"The NDAA has become law every year for 59 years straight because it’s absolutely vital to our national security and our troops," he said in a tweet. "This year must not be an exception. Our men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform shouldn’t be denied what they need— ever."

The president's Wednesday veto comes one day after he suggested he may not sign the Covid-19 relief and government funding package overwhelmingly passed by Congress earlier this week unless it increases the amount in direct checks to Americans from $600 to $2,000 and removes funding of certain projects.