President Trump on Wednesday vetoed a $740 billion defense bill over provisions that would halt his drawdown of troops in Afghanistan and force the renaming of 10 military bases that honor Confederates.
Trump had threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act over those provisions and because it did not repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives immunity to social media companies for third-party content.
Trump said in a veto message that the bill “contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first” and “is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia.”
“Numerous provisions of the Act directly contradict my Administration’s foreign policy, particularly my efforts to bring our troops home,” Trump wrote.
“I oppose endless wars, as does the American public. Over bipartisan objections, however, this Act purports to restrict the President’s ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Germany, and South Korea. Not only is this bad policy, but it is unconstitutional.”
The House and Senate are expected to consider veto override votes next week.
Trump’s veto message says the bill “fails even to make any meaningful changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, despite bipartisan calls for repealing that provision. Section 230 facilitates the spread of foreign disinformation online, which is a serious threat to our national security and election integrity. It must be repealed.”
Trump said military bases should not be renamed because “these locations have taken on significance to the American story and those who have helped write it that far transcends their namesakes.”
The president took his time vetoing the bill, which passed the Senate on Dec. 11, to reduce the chances of Congress overriding his vote before lawmaker terms expire Jan. 3.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this week he would hold an override vote on Dec. 29. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is likely to hold an override vote on or around Dec. 28.
The bill passed both chambers by veto-proof margins. A two-thirds vote in each chamber is required to override the veto.
Senators voted 84-13 for the bill and the House passed it 335-78.
It’s unclear if back-bench maneuvers will slow override votes. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who supports Trump’s plan to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by Jan. 15, delayed Senate passage of the bill this month.
“The goal all along here has been to delay the bill as long as possible so it makes it harder to override the veto,” a Paul aide told The Post.
It’s also possible enough Republicans will join Trump in one chamber to prevent a two-thirds vote against him. Boosting his chances in the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told colleagues that although he voted for the bill, he won’t vote for an override.
Republicans in Congress rallied to reform or repeal Section 230 immunity for companies like Twitter and Facebook after they censored The Post’s reporting in October on President-elect Joe Biden’s apparent links to his son Hunter’s overseas business dealings.
Many Democrats, including Biden and Pelosi, also support revising or repealing Section 230.