President Trump vetoed the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Wednesday, making good on his threats to veto the bill if Congress did not include a provision to repeal Section 230, a law that protects social media companies from liability.
Wednesday marked the deadline to veto the defense bill before becoming law. After Congress sent the bill to the president’s desk over a week and a half ago, Trump let the 10 days excluding Sundays act until the very last day to veto the bill before departing to Florida where he will spend the Christmas Holiday at his Mar-A-Lago club.
In a Presidential veto message statement to Congress, Trump cited Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act as the main reason for the veto, asserting that Congress’s failure to terminate the “dangerous national security risk” makes U.S. “intelligence virtually impossible to conduct.”
“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 It must be repealed,” Trump wrote.
Both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly approved the annual defense spending bill earlier this month. The bill passed in the Senate with 84-13 votes, clearing the 67-vote threshold needed to override a presidential veto.
“I hope House Republicans will vote against the very weak National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which I will VETO. Must include a termination of Section 230 (for National Security purposes), preserve our National Monuments, & allow for 5G & troop reductions in foreign lands!” Trump tweeted Dec. 8 ahead of the House scheduled vote.
I hope House Republicans will vote against the very weak National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which I will VETO. Must include a termination of Section 230 (for National Security purposes), preserve our National Monuments, & allow for 5G & troop reductions in foreign lands!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2020
The House passed the legislation with a veto-proof margin with a 335-78 vote, way over the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chair James Inhofe (R-OK ) opposed including a provision of Section 230 into the NDAA, arguing the repealing of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is unrelated to national security.
“The NDAA has become law every year for 59 years straight because it’s absolutely vital to our national security and our troops. This year must not be an exception,” Inhofe said in a statement after Trump’s veto. “I hope all of my colleagues in Congress will join me in making sure our troops have the resources and equipment they need to defend this nation.”
Other provisions incorporated into the bill would have triggered a presidential veto from Trump, including a proposal to rename 10 military installations, restricting the President’s ability through congressional authorization, slowing down the rollout of nationwide 5G, and unconstitutionally restricts the President’s ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Germany, and South Korea.
“Additionally, the Act includes language that would require the renaming of certain military installations. I have been clear in my 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,” Trump stated in his veto message.
Trump added, “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.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) prevented the Senate from passing the bill with unanimous consent due to his opposition to a provision limiting the president’s power to draw down troops in Afghanistan. He threatened on the Senate floor on Monday that he will seek to delay the upcoming override vote and drag out procedural hurdles.
“I very much am opposed to the Afghan war, and I’ve told them I’ll come back to try to prevent them from easily overriding the president’s veto,” Paul said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up the voting process to override the president’s expected veto late Monday night.
The House is set to reconvene on Dec. 28 with the Senate to follow suit the next day on Dec. 29, if the House successfully overrides the veto.
The NDAA has been passed every year by Congress for the last 59 years without any hiccups since 1967.