President Trump carried through on his threat to veto the $741 billion National Defense Authorization Act Wednesday, setting up what is expected to be the first veto override during his administration.
Both the House and the Senate passed the bill earlier this month with veto-proof majorities, and Congress has already made plans for a post-Christmas session during which lawmakers plan to override the veto. Congress will have until noon on January 3 to do so.
In his statement announcing the veto, Trump charged that the bill is “a ‘gift’ to China and Russia.” Boasting that “No one has worked harder, or approved more money for the military, than I have,” the president recited a series of complaints about the bill, including its failure to repeal legal protections for tech firms, its establishment of a process for removing the names of Confederate leaders from U.S. military bases, and its restrictions on the executive’s ability to bring troops home from overseas.
“For all of these reasons, I cannot support this bill,” Trump said. “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.”
Congress reacts: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) said Wednesday he was confident the bill would become law. “The FY21 NDAA passed with overwhelming, veto-proof support in both the House and Senate, and I remain confident that Congress will override this harmful veto,” Smith said in a statement.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was more pointed in his criticism, invoking the military pay raise included in the bill. “Donald Trump just vetoed a pay raise for our troops so he can defend dead Confederate traitors,” Schumer tweeted. “Democrats will vote to override it.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, one of Trump’s most loyal Republican allies, released a statement praising the president while calling for passage of the bill. Inhofe did not mention that Trump had in fact vetoed the bill and was the only impediment to passing the bill into law.