In a move that was generally expected, on Wednesday afternoon Trump vetoed the $740.5 billion annual defense policy bill – not the covid stimulus bill which he also threatened to block last night – following through on his threat despite the legislation passing Congress with a veto-proof majority.
“I am returning, without my approval, H.R. 6395, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021,” Trump said in a statement to the House of Representatives, saying the NDAA “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. It is a “gift” to China and Russia.”
The president has previously opposed a provision in the measure to rename military bases that honor Confederate generals; he has also demanded that the bill include a provision to abolish the Section 230 tech-liability shield.
The bill, H.R. 6395, will now return to Congress where the House and the Senate both have the votes and may decide to override Trump’s veto.
The full text of Trump’s veto is below.
TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
I am returning, without my approval, H.R. 6395, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (the ‘Act’). my Administration recognizes the importance of the Act to our national security. Unfortunately, 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. It is a “gift” to China and Russia.
No one has worked harder, or approved more money for the military, than I have — over 62 trillion. During my 4 years, with the support of many others, we have almost entirely rebuilt the United States military, which was totally depleted when I took office. 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.
The Act fails even to make any meaningful changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, despite bipartisan calls for repealing that provision. Section 230 facilitates the spread of foreign disinformation online, which is a serious threat to our national security and election integrity. It must be repealed.
The Act also restricts the President’s ability to preserve our Nation’s security by arbitrarily limiting the amount of military construction funds that can be used to respond to a national emergency. In a time when adversaries have the means to directly attack the homeland, the President must be able to safeguard the American people without having to wait for congressional authorization. The Act also contains an amendment that would slow down the rollout of nationwide 5G, especially in rural areas.
Numerous provisions of the Act directly contradict my Administration’s foreign policy, particularly my efforts to bring our troops home. I oppose endless wars, as does the American public. Over bipartisan objections, however, this Act purports to restrict the President’s ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Germany, and South Korea. Not only is this bad policy, but it is unconstitutional. Article II of the Constitution makes the President the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States and vests in him the executive power. Therefore, the decision regarding how many troops to deploy and where, including in Afghanistan, Germany, and South Korea, rests with him. The Congress may not arrogate this authority to itself directly or indirectly as purported spending restrictions.
For all of these reasons, I cannot support this bill. my Administration has taken strong actions to help keep our Nation safe and support our service members. I will not approve this bill, which would put the interests of the Washington, D.C. establishment over those of the American people. It is my duty to return H.R. 6395 to the Home of Representatives without my approval.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,
Separately, Bloomberg reports that republican leader Kevin McCarthy told caucus members on a phone call that Nancy Pelosi’s bid to use unanimous consent to increase stimulus payments to $2,000 will fail. The New York Times also reported that McCarthy told GOP lawmakers that he has spoken to President Trump and Trump is still deciding whether he will veto the stimulus bill.
However, in a report from Politico, we read that “two people close to the president said Trump is unlikely to actually veto the spending/stimulus bill and cause a government shutdown.”