Senate overrides Trump veto of bill
The Senate on Friday voted overwhelmingly to override President Trump’s veto of the annual military policy bill as most Republicans joined Democrats to rebuke Trump in the final days of his presidency.
The 81-to-13 vote was the first time lawmakers have overridden one of Trump’s vetoes. It reflected the sweeping popularity of a measure that authorised a pay raise for the nation’s military.
The margin surpassed the two-thirds majority needed to force enactment of the bill over Trump’s objections, and only seven Republicans voted to sustain the veto. The House passed the legislation on Monday in a similarly lopsided 322-to-87 vote that also mustered the two-thirds majority required.
The vote ended a devastating legislative week for Trump, effectively denying him two of the last demands of his presidency.
Senate Republican leaders on Wednesday had declared that there was “no realistic path” for a vote on increasing stimulus checks to $2,000 from the current $600, a measure Trump had pressed lawmakers to take up.
Republicans have also divided over supporting the President’s determination to make one last and futile attempt to overturn the 2020 election results in Congress next week.
Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, typically a strong ally of the President, took to the Senate floor on Friday to encourage his colleagues to override Trump’s veto, calling the passage of the bill “the most significant vote lawmakers take”.
“This year especially so, in light of all of the disruptions and problems that we’ve had,” Inhofe said.
The main disruption Inhofe was referring to was the president. Making good on a months-long series of threats, the President vetoed the bipartisan legislation last week, citing a shifting list of reasons, including his objection to a provision directing the military to strip the names of Confederate leaders from bases.
He also demanded that the bill include the repeal of what is known as Section 230, a legal shield for social media companies that he has tangled with. Republicans and Democrats alike have said that the repeal, a significant legislative change, is irrelevant to a bill that dictates military policy.
Trump took to Twitter on Friday shortly after the vote to register his anger at Republican lawmakers’ unwillingness to meet his demands.
“Our Republican Senate just missed the opportunity to get rid of Section 230, which gives unlimited power to Big Tech companies. Pathetic!!!” Trump wrote. “Now they want to give people ravaged by the China Virus $600, rather than the $2000 which they so desperately need. Not fair, or smart!”
Those objections, registered late in the legislative process, infuriated lawmakers, who had laboured for months to put together a bipartisan bill.
They had prided themselves on passing the military bill each year for 60 years, and lawmakers in Trump’s own party ultimately moved to mow over his concerns and advance the legislation. It was a sharp departure from the deference Trump has normally been shown on Capitol Hill by members of his party.
The vote on Friday ensures that the legislation will be enacted into law over Trump’s objections, including the provision requiring the Pentagon to strip the names of Confederates from military bases that so riled the President.
The bill also takes steps to slow or block Trump’s planned drawdown of American troops from Germany and Afghanistan, and would make it more difficult for the President to deploy military personnel to the southern border.
All of the Republican conference leaders voted to override the veto on Friday, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader. He called the legislation “a tremendous opportunity to direct our national security priorities to reflect the resolve of the American people.”
New York Times News Service