Top House Armed Services Republican urges GOP to avoid 'distortions' of vetoed defense bill
Rep. Mac Thornberry, top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, is calling on GOP lawmakers to stamp out "distortions or misrepresentations" in annual defense legislation before the vote is vetoed next week.
Thornberry did not specifically urge House Republicans to vote on a brief note to his colleagues to overturn President Donald Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act after the veto was passed Wednesday. But the Texas Republican urged members to weigh the provisions of bipartisan law first and foremost.
"Your decision should be based on what is actually on the bill, and not on bias or misrepresentation," Thornberry said in the note received from POLITICO.
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Thornberry's kick-off comes ahead of a vote on Monday that Republicans could make or break. The vote will see if GOP members are ready to defy Trump en masse, a scenario Thornberry pointed out.
"Your decision should be based on the oath we have all taken, which was in accordance with the constitution rather than any person or organization," he said.
This year's version of the Defense Act is named after Thornberry, who is retiring at the end of next week's congressional session.
Trump vetoed the bill after Democrats and Republicans refused to include his last-minute call to lift legal protections for social media companies unrelated to defense legislation. He also opposed provisions that would remove the names of Confederate leaders from the military bases and restrict his plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Europe.
The commander-in-chief has also argued that the defense law was a gift to Beijing, contradicting Republicans in Congress, who have touted it as the toughest piece of legislation in China in years.
Top Republicans have also warned that the NDAA's failure would mean a major cyber overhaul in a rambling hack by federal agencies allegedly committed by Russia.
Thornberry did not mention Trump by name, but did share several information sheets on provisions Trump cited in a formal statement rejecting the bill, including provisions on troop withdrawals and base renaming. He also shared fact sheets on the provisions of the Cybersecurity Law and China.
Thornberry was also tied to a roundup of key regulations and agencies, including a number of salary clauses and bonuses that would be forfeited if the NDAA failed.
The Compromise Bill was passed this month by 335-78 votes, well in excess of the two-thirds majority required to overturn a presidential veto. The Senate also passed the final NDAA by a wide margin.
But the override requires solid support from both parties, and Republicans could fuel the bill if enough of them are on Trump's side. Republicans cast 140 votes this month to pass the NDAA, teaming up with 195 Democrats.
The dilemma of defying Trump has exposed rifts in the House Republican conference. Minority leader Kevin McCarthy voted to pass the bill but said he would not vote to override Trump while the minority whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) Opposed the bill. Several dozen Trump-oriented Conservatives were also against the legislation.
On the flip side, senior Republicans like Thornberry and the Chair of the House GOP Conference, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, have stressed the need to get the bill through at all costs.
"This is a time to put the security of our nation and our responsibility to our troops before any other consideration," Thornberry said.
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