Senate Overrides Trump’s Veto Of $740 Billion Defense Bill As Lawmakers Make Last-Minute Plea For $2,000 Stimulus Checks

Topline

In a last-minute hearing before closing out its current session, the Senate Friday voted to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the $741 billion Defense Authorization bill, which Congress previously passed with broad bipartisan support, delivering a firm rebuke to the president’s wishes of overturning legislation favoring big tech firms less than three weeks before he leaves office.

Key Facts

With a Senate vote of 81-to-13 in favor of overriding the veto, this marks the first time Congress has successfully overridden any of the nine vetoes Trump has issued during his time in office. 

Seven Republicans and five Democrats–all of whom previously rejected the defense bill–voted against the override, including Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Tom Hawley (R-Mo.), who led an unsuccessful bid to put a standalone stimulus check bill on the floor Friday, also voted against the override.

Known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the compromise spending measure for the 2021 fiscal year appropriates funds for the military and passed the Senate and House earlier this month with broad bipartisan support, easily surpassing the two-thirds majority needed in both chambers to override a presidential veto. 

President Trump vetoed the legislation on December 23 after weeks of insisting he would do so 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.

Crucial Quote 

“The Senate is focused on completing the defense legislation that looks after our brave men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday afternoon shortly after dismissing the $2,000 stimulus check legislation as largely “socialism for rich people.” “We passed this legislation 59 years in a row, and one way or another we’re going to complete the 60th annual NDAA and pass it into law before this Congress concludes on Sunday.”

Tangent

A slew of lawmakers including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) urged McConnell on Friday to put a standalone bill for $2,000 stimulus checks on the floor. “Today is the last chance to deliver $2,000 before a new Congress is sworn in and the legislative process must start all over again,” Schumer said. McConnell, meanwhile, doubled-down on his insistence that the bill is “not the right way” and ultimately refused to put the measure on the floor.

Chief Critic

“Twitter is shadow banning like never before. A disgrace that our weak and ineffective political leadership refuses to do anything about Big Tech,” President Trump tweeted Wednesday a few hours before a Senate vote to debate the veto override, alluding to Section 230’s protection of firms both when they leave content up or take it down. “They’re either afraid or stupid, nobody really knows!”

Further Reading

House Votes To Override Trump’s Defense Bill Veto (Forbes)

Trump Vetoes Broadly Supported Defense Bill As He Battles Congress On Multiple Fronts (Forbes)

Senate Averts Shutdown, Passes $741 Billion Defense Bill With Veto-Proof Majority, Buying Time For Stimulus And Budget Deal (Forbes)

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