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Trump vetoes defense bill, setting up possible override vote

Donald Trump
Posted at 3:36 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 15:59:52-05

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has vetoed the annual defense policy bill.

Trump followed through on threats to veto the measure that has broad bipartisan support in Congress and it potentially sets up the first override vote of his presidency.

The bill would affirm 3% pay raises for U.S. troops and authorize more than $740 billion in military programs and construction.

Trump has offered a series of rationales for vetoing the bill, including his calls for lawmakers to include limits on social media companies he claimed are biased against him.

The bill, which was approved earlier this month by overwhelming majorities in both legislative chambers, had enough votes to override Trump’s veto. The House approved the bill by a 335-78 margin, while the Senate approved it 84-13.

Part of Trump’s grievance with the act was due to Section 230 not being repealed, which is a code that protects websites and social media companies from litigation for materials published by users. Trump has called on the repeal of Section 230.

Trump has aired his frustration at major social media organizations such as Twitter for tagging tweets that contain misinformation.

“The Act fails even to make any meaningful changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, despite bipartisan calls for repealing that provision,” Trump alleges in a letter returning the bill to the House. “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 It must be repealed.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is in favor of amending the code, but not repealing it entirely. Pelosi said there is bipartisan support for revising the code.

“I don’t like 230, I think it needs to be revised,” Pelosi said. “You cannot repeal it or you will destroy protections for small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, a close ally of the president's, said that Trump would approve defense spending and the stimulus package if Congress agreed to repeal Section 230. On Tuesday, Trump said he was not supportive of the stimulus bill passed by overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate earlier this week. The bills would have provided $600 direct payments to most Americans. Trump, however, did not outright say he would veto the pandemic stimulus package.

"I hope Speaker Pelosi will agree with President Trump that Big Tech needs to be reined in by winding down Section 230 liability protections," Graham tweeted. "I have reason to believe this combination will lead to President Trump supporting the NDAA and COVID19 omnibus bills."