Trump vetoes $ 740 billion NDAA defense bill

President Donald Trump overhears during a White House video conference with members of the military on Nov. 26, 2020.

Erin Schaff | The New York Times | Bloomberg | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the comprehensive defense bill allowing a top line of $ 740 billion in spending and outlining Pentagon policies.

Unfortunately, the law lacks critical national security measures, contains provisions that our veterans and our military history do not respect, and contradicts my government’s efforts to put America first in our national security and foreign policy, ”Trump wrote in a lengthy statement to Congress.

“It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia,” added the president, without mentioning specific details.

Earlier this month, the National Defense Authorization Act passed both houses of Congress with veto-right margins, meaning any veto from Trump would likely be lifted.

Congress must now vote again to override Trump. The House is scheduled to return from the holiday on Monday, and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has said his chamber would vote on Tuesday to lift the veto.

This year’s 4,517-page defense bill, typically passed with strong bipartisan support and veto majorities, is funding the U.S. national security portfolio. It has been legally signed for nearly six consecutive decades.

At the very least, passage of the bill will increase soldiers’ pay and keep crucial defense modernization programs going.

An F-35B Lightning II fighter with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), prepares to take off from the cockpit of the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) preceding strike drill of an inflatable maritime target.

Lance Cpl. Joshua Brittenham | US Marine Corps | FlickrCC

Trump has put forward several reasons to oppose the gigantic defense law.

Earlier this month, he threatened to veto if lawmakers did not take a measure to scrap section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects tech giants like Facebook and Twitter, for what’s posted on their platforms.

Trump has repeatedly accused Twitter, his favorite social media platform, of unfair censorship.

Trump renewed the threat last week.

In his message to Congress, Trump wrote that the NDAA had failed to “make any meaningful changes to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.” He called on Congress to withdraw the measure.

The president has previously said the measure posed a serious threat to US national security and the integrity of the election, but gave no further explanatory details. Trump has also claimed the bill is in China’s favor.

The president’s issue with Section 230 came to light this summer after Twitter added warning labels to several of its tweets that alleged mail-in votes are fraudulent. Trump has still not admitted the election of President-elect Joe Biden.

The NDAA does not, in its current form, contain any measure related to Article 230.

“[Section] 230 has nothing to do with the military, “Senate Armed Forces Committee chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., Told reporters earlier this month.” I agree with his feelings, we should get rid of 230 – but you can’t do that. it in this bill, ” added Inhofe, an ally of Trump.

“The president appears to be planning to fill each of his remaining days in office with irritability, grievance and self-interest,” Democratic leader Senator Chuck Schumer said earlier this month after Trump’s renewed threats over Section 230.

Trump has also insisted that the defense spending law contains language that prevents military bases from being renamed to commemorate Confederate-era figures.

The Republican-led Senate Armed Services Commission in the summer approved a provision by Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Requiring the Pentagon to rename military assets named after symbols of the Confederacy, the group of states that seceded of the US and the Union fought in the civil war.

Trump dismissed that idea in a multi-tweet post in June, claiming that the southern names of the bases have become part of the nation’s great ‘heritage’.

“It has been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our legendary military bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc. These monumental and very powerful bases have become part of a Great American heritage. and a history of winning, victory and freedom, ”Trump wrote on Twitter.

“The United States of America has trained and deployed our HEROES on these sacred grounds, and won two world wars. Therefore, my government will not even consider renaming these Magnificent and Legendary military installations,” the president wrote.

CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report.