The United States Congress has voted to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a major defence bill, bringing to an end unrestrained legislative session and a political showdown that pitched the US president against members of his own Republican Party.
In a rare New Year’s Day session, the Senate voted 81 to 13 to reach the two-thirds majority required to override Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Democrats and Republicans joined together to support the $740bn defence bill, which sets the US’s military and strategic direction for the year ahead.
yesterday’s vote was the first time US legislators overrode a Trump veto in the Republican leader’s presidency, after the Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives on December 28 also overwhelmingly voted in favour.
On Friday afternoon, Trump hit out at the Republican-controlled Senate for overriding his veto. “Our Republican Senate just missed the opportunity to get rid of Section 230, which gives unlimited power to Big Tech companies. Pathetic!!!” he quipped in the tweet.
Trump, just weeks before he is set to leave the White House, had raised several points of opposition to the bill, saying it would restrict his ability to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan, South Korea and Germany.
Trump objected to language requiring the US military to rename bases named after Confederate figures in the US Civil War.
Again, he wanted Congress to repeal Section 230 of a US communications law that allows users to freely post content on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
But in debate before the veto override, members of Congress – including senior Republicans dismissed Trump’s objections to the bill as misguided.
“The reasons the president has given, I don’t think are frivolous at all – but they just shouldn’t be tagged to this particular piece of legislation,” Republican Senator John Cornyn said.
Trump also criticised the Senate on Friday for blocking his push to increase Covid-19 relief payments to Americans. “Now they want to give people ravaged by the China Virus $600, rather than the $2000 which they so desperately need. Not fair, or smart!” he tweeted.
Trump has been increasingly at logger head with Republican leaders since Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged Joe Biden as the winner of the US presidential elections.
McConnell had promised to pass the defence bill into law “one way or another” before Congress concluded on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Friday that the bipartisan votes in the Senate and House “delivered a resounding rebuke to President Trump’s reckless assault on America’s military and national security”.
Pelosi, the Democratic House Majority Leader, said US lawmakers are urging “Trump to end his desperate and dangerous sabotage” before Biden’s inauguration later this month.