House Majority Leader Sees Votes to Override Trump Defense Veto
(Bloomberg) -- House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House has enough votes to override a veto by President Donald Trump of a crucial defense bill over his demand that it include a provision to strip a legal shield for social media platforms.
Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, spoke in an interview after Trump repeated his threat to veto the annual defense policy measure.
The National Defense Authorization Act, a massive piece of legislation that, among many things, would authorize military pay raises and extra pay for troops on dangerous missions, has broad support in both the House and Senate and is set to pass both chambers next week. Hoyer told reporters at the Capitol that the House will vote on the measure Tuesday.
Trump late Thursday repeated his veto threat after Republicans and Democrats on both the House and Senate armed services panels released their bipartisan agreement on the bill. The Defense Authorization Act has become law every year for the past 59 years.
“Very sadly for our Nation, it looks like Senator @JimInhofe will not be putting the Section 230 termination clause into the Defense Bill,” Trump said on Twitter. “So bad for our National Security and Election Integrity. Last chance to ever get it done. I will VETO!”
He was referring to Jim Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects technology companies from liability over most content published by their users.
Inhofe responded Friday, saying that while he agrees with Trump on the need for a repeal of Section 230, the defense measure isn’t the place to do it.
“The president knows that I agree with him 100 percent on the need for a full repeal of Section 230,” Inhofe said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle disagree with the need for a full repeal -- but, because of that, it is impossible to add a repeal of Section 230 to the defense authorization bill.”
Inhofe said that without passage of the legislation, troops wouldn’t get flight pay, hazard pay or other specialty pay “that requires annual authorization for our service members overseas.”
The legislation also would bolster funding authorizations for major weapons systems including submarines and fighter aircraft.
Some Republican senators have backed Trump, including Josh Hawley of Missouri and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Hawley said earlier this week that Trump’s push for the inclusion of a repeal of Section 230 is “absolutely reasonable and I support him 100%.”
Graham said in a tweet Friday that he supports the president and that “Big Tech is the only industry in American that cannot be sued for their business practices and are not meaningfully regulated.” Graham is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and has postponed multiple times the consideration of legislation aimed at Section 230.
Trump also tweeted inaccurately Friday that the defense bill would require “renaming, or even desecration, of National Monuments in National Parks.”
The provision, which Trump previously cited as grounds for a veto, actually would apply only to “assets of the Department of Defense,” which doesn’t manage national monuments. The legislation would create a commission to consider modifying or removing names and symbols on military bases tied to the Confederacy.
In July, Trump threatened to veto the measure because it could lead to renaming U.S. military installations that honor Confederate generals, including Fort Benning in Georgia and Fort Lee in Virginia.
Hoyer told Bloomberg News in the interview Friday that the House has the votes to override a veto. In the Senate, Inhofe said Wednesday that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told him that the defense measure will come to the floor immediately, which he took to mean early next week, setting up a potential showdown with the president.
While politicians from both parties have called for Section 230 to be weakened or revised, Trump and others on the political right have long complained that companies such as Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. have suppressed conservative opinions. The companies deny the allegations of censorship.
The Trump administration’s wish to alter or even repeal the law has taken on greater urgency since the president was defeated by Joe Biden in November’s election.
The White House has pushed for language that’s similar to a bill sponsored by Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican.
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