As the clock ticked down on a government shutdown deadline slated for midnight, the Senate on Friday passed a compromise $741 billion defense spending bill and approved a stopgap continuing resolution to extend government funding and avert a shutdown for another week, buying some time for budget and stimulus negotiations before year’s end.
Known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the compromise spending measure passed the Senate on Friday in a 84 to 13 vote, surpassing the 67 votes needed to override a presidential veto.
The Senate then approved via voice vote a continuing resolution that will extend government funding at current levels through December 18, giving lawmakers more time to pass a comprehensive coronavirus relief bill and a $1.4 trillion omnibus budget bill for the 2021 fiscal year.
President Trump has insisted he will veto the defense bill because it includes no provision to repeal Section 230, which effectively gives tech giants like Alphabet and Facebook a shield against liability for the actions and words of private citizens on their platforms.
Trump also threatened to veto the bill over a provision removing Confederate names from military installations and restrictions it places on troop drawdowns in Germany and South Korea.
The defense bill previously passed the House on Tuesday with another veto-proof majority and strong bipartisan support, as 140 Republicans joined 195 Democrats for approval, in a 335 to 78 vote.
“I hope House Republicans will vote against the very weak National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which I will VETO,” Trump tweeted Tuesday, before the House voted to approve the NDAA. “Must include a termination of Section 230 (for National Security purposes), preserve our National Monuments, & allow for 5G & troop reductions in foreign lands!”
What To Watch For
The defense bill is now headed to President Trump’s desk. Currently slated to break after next week, Congress may be forced to remain in Washington later in December if Trump vetoes the bill—as he’s threatened to do. At least one lawmaker has vowed to break against the norm by supporting a presidential veto on the NDAA despite voting in favor of the bill. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday said, “My point has always been, when I became a leader, I would not vote against the president’s veto.”
Key disagreements among lawmakers could still force a shutdown–or another continuing resolution–after next week’s deadline. Stimulus negotiations have grown more urgent and more complicated this week as lawmakers grapple with a $908 billion bipartisan plan as well as a separate $916 billion plan from the Trump administration, and on the Senate floor Friday Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) warned that they would object to another continuing resolution next week without a vote on their proposed amendment for additional $1,200 stimulus checks. On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was among lawmakers threatening to stall the stopgap vote on Friday, citing opposition to the defense bill (which he, along with Sanders and Hawley, voted against on Friday), but he relented on Friday morning, telling reporters, “Our main point in filibustering the defense authorization bill was to point out that the president should have the prerogative to end a war, not just to start wars. . . . So we did hold things up for a day on that, but we’re not going to on the [continuing resolution].”
House Overwhelmingly Approves Defense Bill Despite Trump Veto Threat (Forbes)
House Passes Stopgap Spending Bill To Avert Shutdown, Buy Time For Stimulus And Omnibus Budget (Forbes)
Rand Paul Obstructs Defense Bill, Decries ‘Dangerous Precedent For Limiting A President’s Power To End War’ (Forbes)
As Stimulus Negotiations Drag On, Pelosi Says Congress ‘Cannot Leave’ Without Passing A New Aid Bill (Forbes)