Trump Vetoes Defense Bill, Setting Up Congressional Vote To Override Him President Trump has vetoed the annual defense bill, which has won congressional approval 60 years straight. Now, Congress will move to override that veto.
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Trump Vetoes Defense Bill, Setting Up Congressional Vote To Potentially Override Him

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Trump Vetoes Defense Bill, Setting Up Congressional Vote To Potentially Override Him

Trump Vetoes Defense Bill, Setting Up Congressional Vote To Potentially Override Him

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, so Congress thought it had tied up most of its work before leaving for the holidays, but President Trump apparently had different ideas. Yesterday, he vetoed the annual defense bill. And the day before that, he harshly criticized the massive COVID relief bill that was passed after a lot of work. That caught many off guard, including Republican Congressman Tom Reed, who spoke to NPR yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

TOM REED: Obviously, it caught all of us by surprise, so many of us were blindsided by this action by the president.

GREENE: And now each party seems to have a different plan to respond. And let's bring in NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. Hi, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: Let's start with that bill that was vetoed, the Defense Authorization Act. It's known as the NDAA. Remind us what was in there and why the president vetoed it.

GRISALES: Yes, this is the policy bill for the Pentagon, so it includes pay raises, boosts in troop levels and equipment. And the veto isn't a surprise. Trump threatened to veto this bill several times in the last several months. He first took issue with the bill's plans to rename military bases that honor figures from the Confederacy. And then he wanted a last-minute provision repealing a liability shield for social media companies. And then, finally, he said that it didn't sufficiently address China.

GREENE: So what happens now?

GRISALES: So because this wasn't a surprise, Congress already made plans to meet to override this veto next week, and it appears that they have the majorities needed to do so. And that's because when they passed the final version of this legislation earlier this month, they drew these kind of overwhelming votes already.

So the House is expected to meet first. To override this veto, they'll need two-thirds of their members to agree. And if that clears the lower chamber, it will move to the Senate for similar approval by Tuesday.

GREENE: OK, well, Claudia, I mean, it sounds like lawmakers had a plan for that defense bill. They did not have a plan for this change, the president jumping in and throwing a wrench in the COVID relief negotiations. I mean, this - it sounds like that came out of nowhere.

GRISALES: Exactly, as we heard from Reed at the top. And there's little appetite to address these demands. Republicans instead say they want to have the House floor greenlight a plan to revisit the foreign aid section of the spending package. This was one of Trump's major targets this week in his video statement, but this is a no-go for Democrats.

One House Republican, Nebraska's Don Bacon, told his colleagues on a call yesterday that Trump basically threw them under the bus. And he noted in a statement afterwards confirming this that his party was told by the White House to support this bill on Monday, the same day of the vote. So the frustration with Trump is palpable.

GREENE: And then you have this weird situation with Democrats sort of cheering on Trump calling for larger direct payments to Americans, basically saying, I'm so happy you came around to our idea.

GRISALES: Exactly. They held a pro forma session on the House floor. These are quick check-ins on the floor. And they were trying to get quick approval for this plan, but they were blocked by Republicans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement afterwards that the GOP, quote, "cruelly" blocked these payments and Trump should call on them to stop their obstruction. Now she says she's going to try again on Monday to call for a roll call vote. This is to make certain that every lawmaker and their vote is recorded on this.

And she hopes by Monday the president will sign this spending package because if not, Congress will need to pass a new government funding measure to avoid a government shutdown by Monday night.

GREENE: Wow, we could be back there.

GRISALES: Yeah.

GREENE: NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. Thank you so much, Claudia.

GRISALES: Thanks for having me.

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