House prepares to override Trump's veto of defense bill

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Washington — The House is poised to convene Monday to vote to override President Trump’s veto of an annual must-pass defense policy bill, setting up what could be the first time Congress overrides a veto from Mr. Trump just weeks before he leaves office.

The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, passed both the House and Senate earlier this month with support from more than two-thirds of each chamber, clearing the thresholds needed to set aside Mr. Trump’s veto. The Senate is scheduled to meet Tuesday to begin the process of taking up the matter.

The $740 billion defense bill provides funding for military programs and construction projects, and authorizes a 3% pay raise for troops. But in the weeks leading up to its passage, Mr. Trump raised objections with the measure because it leaves untouched a federal law, known as Section 230, that provides a powerful legal shield for internet companies. The president also took issue with a provision of the bill that requires the Pentagon to rename military facilities and bases named for Confederate leaders.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle urged Mr. Trump to sign the sweeping defense bill, which has become law for 59 years straight. But the president followed through on his threat to veto the measure last week, citing Congress’s “failure to terminate the very dangerous national security risk of Section 230.”

Section 230 is a provision of the Communications Decency Act that shields internet companies from liability for content posted to their platforms by third parties. The measure has become a political football, as Republicans and Mr. Trump believe it has been used by social media companies to censor conservative viewpoints and voices.

While GOP lawmakers agree with the president that Section 230 should be changed, some argue the NDAA is not the proper vehicle to roll back the 24-year-old law.

“The NDAA has become law every year for 59 years straight because it’s absolutely vital to our national security and our troops. This year must not be an exception,” Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement following the president’s veto of the defense bill. Inhofe added that Congress “can and should use another legislative vehicle to repeal Section 230.”

It remains unclear how many Republicans in the House will break with Mr. Trump and vote to overcome his veto. The House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservatives, has pledged to support the president’s rejection of the defense bill, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters earlier this month he would sustain Mr. Trump’s veto despite voting in favor of the legislation. 

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