Trump vetoes defense bill, setting up possible override vote
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump vetoed the annual defense policy bill on Wednesday after enforcing threats to veto a measure widely supported by both parties in Congress, and possibly the first override vote introduced during his presidency.
The bill approves 3% salary increases for U.S. troops and approves more than $ 740 billion in military programs and construction.
The action came when Trump was entrenched in the White House, simmering over his election loss, and escalating his stalemate with Republicans as he promoted fraudulent conspiracy theories and tried to pressure them to support his efforts to reverse the results.
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The House stood ready to return on Monday, and the Senate on Tuesday to consider voting to override the president's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Trump's move provoked a swift condemnation, and House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi called it "an act of unsteady ruthlessness that harms our forces, threatens our security and undermines the will of the bipartisan Congress."
Senator Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, avoided criticism of Trump, but described the NDAA as "absolutely important to our national security and our troops. ... Our men and women who voluntarily wear uniforms should not be denied what they need - never. "
Long before Trump issued the veto, he offered a number of reasons to oppose it. He called on lawmakers to include restrictions on social media companies that they claimed were biased against them - and to brush off language that allowed military bases like Fort Benning and Fort Hood to be renamed, the Confederate leaders to honor. Without going into details, he has claimed that the defense law's biggest winner would be China.
In his veto message to the House, Trump cited these objections, stating that the measure “does not include critical national security measures, contains provisions that our veterans and our military history disregard, and goes against my administration's efforts to put America first set our national security and foreign policy measures. It is a gift to China and Russia. "
He also wrote: “Many provisions of the law directly contradict my government's foreign policy, particularly my efforts to bring our troops home.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the measure by a margin large enough to lift a presidential veto. Trump had previously vetoed eight bills, but those vetoes were upheld because supporters did not get the two-thirds of the votes required in each chamber for the bill to become law without Trump's signature.
Senator Mark Warner, D-Va., Called Trump's veto "incomprehensible" and said he would "look forward to overriding it".
Leading up to the veto, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said the bill would help deter Chinese aggression. Other GOP supporters of the measure, including Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Senate chairman, and Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, have tweeted that the bill would counter threats from countries like China.
Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Armed Forces Committee, said Trump's statement that China is the biggest winner of the defense law was wrong. Reed also noted the alternating explanations Trump had given for the veto.
"President Trump has apparently not read the bill and does not understand what is in it," said Reed. "There are several bipartisan regulations here that are making China tougher than the Trump administration has ever done before."
The measure guides Pentagon policy and cemented decisions about troop strength, new weapon systems and readiness, military personnel policy and other military objectives. Many programs can only go into effect if the bill is approved, including military build-up.
McConnell had called for passage in a rare break with Trump despite Trump's threat to veto. McConnell said it was important for Congress to continue its nearly six-decade phase of passing the Defense Policy Act.
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