Senate passes defense bill, setting up veto showdown with Trump

The Senate on Friday overwhelmingly approved this year’s defense policy legislation, setting up a confrontation with President Donald Trump after he threatened to veto the bill.

Senators approved the National Defense Authorization Act by a wide 84-13 margin, well beyond the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.

The bill now heads to Trump’s desk. Despite broad support from Republicans and Democrats, Trump has pledged to reject the $741 billion defense bill, because it doesn’t include his last-minute demand to repeal legal protections for social media companies.

The confrontation will likely result in one of the few lasting rebukes of Trump by Congress, where Republicans have largely been unwilling to risk the ire of the president and the GOP base.

Congressional leaders have telegraphed that they’ll likely be able to muster enough votes to overturn Trump’s veto, though some Republicans could side with Trump on an override vote. Both the House and Senate passed the compromise bill with veto-proof majorities.

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In recent weeks, lawmakers have sidestepped Trump’s demand to use the defense bill to repeal the online shield, known as Section 230. They contend the defense bill, which includes popular provisions like a pay raise for U.S. troops and has become law for 59 consecutive years, is too important to risk by attaching an issue with no link to national security.

Ahead of the final vote, Senate Armed Services Chair Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), touted the NDAA as “the most important bill of the year.”

know there’s a lot of controversy about this bill,” Inhofe said on the floor. “I know that the president wanted to have something in there that was having to do with language that had nothing to do with the military.”

“I agree wholeheartedly with him,” Inhofe said of Section 230 repeal. “But … you’ve got to have a defense authorization bill. Our kids in the field demand it.”

Trump has taken to Twitter to criticize Inhofe, one of his closest allies on Capitol Hill, for not pushing to include a Section 230 repeal in the final agreement.


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