US Senate backs massive defense bill, despite Trump veto threat

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol Building is reflected on a marble seating area following a rainstorm at the East Front on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 4, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

(Tom Brenner, Reuters)


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. Senate on Friday threw its weight behind the annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a $740 billion bill setting policy for the Department of Defense, passing the bill with a margin large enough to overcome President Donald Trump's promised veto.

The Republican-controlled Senate backed the bill by 84 to 13, more than the two-thirds majority needed in the 100-member chamber to override a veto.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives backed the NDAA by 335 to 78 earlier this week, also more than the two-thirds majority needed.

Backers hope strong bipartisan support will prompt Trump to reconsider his threat to veto the annual bill, which sets policy for the U.S. military and has become law for 59 straight years.

The White House said earlier on Friday that Trump's position had not changed. The Republican president will have 10 days — minus Sundays — to issue a veto, sign it or allow it to become law without his signature.

Trump has threatened to veto the fiscal 2021 NDAA because of a provision to remove the names of Confederate generals from military bases.

He also objects because it does not repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects technology companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook from liability for what appears on their platforms, although that is not related to the military.

Trump also objects to some provisions in the legislation that could slow plans to withdraw of troops from Afghanistan and Germany, but such initiatives would be subject to review by the incoming administration of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden after Trump leaves office on Jan. 20.

A successful veto override would be the first of Trump's four-year presidency.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Franklin Paul, Jonathan Oatis and Philippa Fletcher)

© Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020

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Patricia Zengerle

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