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House votes to override Trump’s annual defense bill veto

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, questions then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter Aug. 1, 2012, in Washington, D.C. (Glenn Fawcett/Department of Defense)
December 28, 2020

The House of Representatives voted on Monday to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the annual defense bill, sending the measure to the Senate for final action.

The vote of 321-87 on Monday evening overrode Trump’s veto of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, marking the first successful vote to override a Trump veto.

211 Democrats, 109 Republicans, and 1 Independent voted in favor of the veto override, while 20 Democrats, 66 Republicans, and 1 Independent voted against it.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith said in a statement provided to American Military News, “Today the House reiterated – in a resounding, bipartisan way – that our service members and national security are more important than politics. … Today’s veto override ensures that our service members and their families have the resources they need to continue to execute their missions and defend our country.”

Smith urged Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and the Senate to also pass a veto override.

“Following today’s vote in the House, I urge Leader McConnell to move swiftly in the Senate. While procedural hurdles remain, I am confident that the veto override vote will ultimately be successful – not because of politics, but because of the NDAA’s merits. It is Congress’ constitutional duty to provide for the common defense, and this responsibility should not be taken lightly.”

Trump had vetoed the bill last week, following through with repeated vows due to Congress’ inaction on two issues – military base renaming and social media protections – that he demanded.

The Senate had voted 84-13 to approve the $740 billion bill on Dec. 11, exceeding the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto. The House of Representatives voted 335-78 on Dec. 8, also exceeding the number needed to override Trump’s veto.

Trump repeatedly said he would veto the defense bill because it failed to include a provision to repeal Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. Section 230 codifies immunities for websites and web services to post or remove content. The law has come under fire as social media giants like Twitter and Facebook are accused of acting like publishers, demonstrating bias on the platforms, and infringing on users’ free speech.

The bill also contains a provision requiring the Department of Defense rename military bases named for Confederate figures – another provision that has drawn Trump’s ire.

Trump also criticized the bill for language that impedes his plan to withdraw U.S. troops from overseas, and his use of military construction funds for the southern U.S. border wall.