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House votes to override Trump's veto of defense bill

by MATTHEW DALY | Story Source    Tuesday December 29, 2020 - 5:03 AM
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* DEFENSE BILL *
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FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before boarding Marine One. Unemployment benefits for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet were set to lapse at midnight Saturday night unless Trump signed an end-of-year COVID relief and spending bill that had been considered a done deal before his sudden objections. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-controlled House voted overwhelmingly to override President Donald Trump's veto of a defense policy bill, setting the stage for what would be the first veto override of his presidency.

House members voted 322-87 on Monday to override the veto, well above the two-thirds needed to override. The Senate, which is expected to vote on the override this week, also needs to approve it by a two-thirds majority.

Trump rejected the defense bill last week, saying it failed to limit social media companies he claims were biased against him during his failed reelection campaign. Trump also opposes language that allows for the renaming of military bases that honor Confederate leaders.

The defense bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, affirms 3% pay raises for U.S. troops and authorizes more than $740 billion in military programs and construction.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said after the vote that the House had done its part to ensure the NDAA becomes law "despite the president's dangerous sabotage efforts.?

Trump's "reckless veto would have denied our service members hazard-duty pay,? removed key protections for global peace and security and "undermined our nation's values and work to combat racism, by blocking overwhelmingly bipartisan action to rename military bases,? Pelosi said.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the bill "absolutely vital to our national security and our troops,? adding, "Our men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform shouldn't be denied what they need — ever."

Trump has succeeded throughout his four-year term in enforcing party discipline in Congress, with few Republicans willing to publicly oppose him. The bipartisan vote on the widely popular defense bill showed the limits of Trump's influence in the final weeks before he leaves office, and came minutes after 130 House Republicans voted against a Trump-supported plan to increase COVID-19 relief checks to $2,000. The House approved the larger payments, but the plan faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate, another sign of Trump's fading hold over Congress.

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