Senate Sets Defense Bill Veto Override in Motion for Weekend
An American flag flies outside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg)

Senate Sets Defense Bill Veto Override in Motion for Weekend

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The Senate moved Wednesday toward a vote to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a $740.5 billion defense policy bill, setting up a clash with the White House that may not culminate until the final hours before a new Congress begins on Sunday.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell was forced Wednesday to schedule a series of procedural votes because Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is delaying the process by demanding a separate vote on increasing pandemic stimulus payments to $2,000 from $600 for most Americans. That increase has been championed by Trump and Democrats, but many Republicans are opposed, and McConnell has refused to bring it up as a stand-alone bill.

Under Senate procedures, the impasse could delay the vote on whether to override a Trump veto for the first time until Saturday, or even as late as Sunday before the current Congress ends at noon Washington time.

The procedural vote Wednesday on a motion to proceed to the veto override on the annual defense measure, H.R. 6395, was 80 to 12. Absent agreements being reached in the meantime, the next procedural move in the Senate may be a vote Friday to limit the hours of debate.

The House voted 322-87 on Monday to override Trump’s veto, handily exceeding the two-thirds threshold needed, with support coming from majorities of both Democrats and Republicans.

Trump on Tuesday unleashed a bitter attack on fellow Republicans.

“Weak and tired Republican ‘leadership’ will allow the bad Defense Bill to pass,” Trump tweeted. “Negotiate a better Bill, or get better leaders, NOW!” he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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