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Trump vetoes massive defense bill despite overwhelming GOP support

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Posted at 2:03 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 16:03:51-05

President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the sweeping defense bill that both chambers of Congress recently passed by veto-proof majorities.

He had previously threatened to do so because it doesn't include a repeal of Section 230, a law that shields internet companies from being liable for what is posted on their websites by them or third parties.

The bill also includes provisions to limit how much money Trump can move around for his border wall and another that would require the military to rename bases that were named after figures from the Confederacy.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the massive funding bill with a veto-proof majority of 84 to 13, a major rebuke to the President. Trump's position on the bill sharply divided GOP lawmakers, forcing them to choose between loyalty to the President and legislation that sets defense policy for the country. The House of Representatives also recently passed the bill with a veto-proof majority.

It's unclear if Republicans will again defy the President and vote to override his veto. Multiple House lawmakers, including the top Democrat and Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, however, previously said they will cut their holidays short for Congress to return to Washington to override a veto if necessary. A new vote has yet to be scheduled.

The $740 billion bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act also includes pay raises for America's soldiers, modernizations for equipment and provisions to require more scrutiny before troops are withdrawn from Germany or Afghanistan.

While Trump's previous veto threats drew swift and sharp bipartisan pushback from lawmakers who have argued that he is using leverage over the troops to settle personal scores, he has received vocal support from some allies.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had backed the President on his push to remove Section 230.

"I support President @realDonaldTrump's insistence Section 230 repeal be part of the defense authorization bill," he wrote in a three-tweet thread. "Big Tech is the only industry in America that cannot be sued for their business practices and are not meaningfully regulated. This must come to an end."

The conservative House Freedom Caucus announced ahead of the House vote that its members will side with Trump in his opposition to the legislation and was pressuring other GOP members to side with Trump as well.

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