U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging his colleagues to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a $740 billion defense spending measure in a vote expected this week.
“President Trump has rightly noted this year’s defense bill doesn’t contain every provision that we Republicans would have wanted. I’m confident our Democratic colleagues feel the same way,” McConnell said Tuesday.
“But that is the case every year. And yet, for 59 consecutive years and counting, Washington has put our differences aside, found common ground, and passed the annual defense bill.”
The Senate approved the NDAA in an 84-13 vote earlier this month, far more than the two-thirds vote needed to override a veto. After Trump’s veto, the House of Representatives responded with an overwhelming vote to override it on Monday.
McConnell was hoping to hold the Senate vote on Wednesday. However liberal senators led by Bernie Sanders are blocking action on the defense bill until the Senate votes on a proposal to increase coronavirus relief payments to Americans.
If the Senate approves the override, it would be the first time Congress has gone against a Trump veto during his four years in office.
Trump on Tuesday called the defense legislation a “disgraceful act of cowardice and total submission by weak people to Big Tech. Negotiate a better Bill, or get better leaders, NOW! Senate should not approve NDAA until fixed!!!″
The president has criticized the bill on several fronts, including saying it should include the repeal of a provision that protects social media companies from liability over content their users post. Trump has voiced his displeasure that Twitter has frequently labeled his claims that he was defrauded of re-election as “disputed.”
He also said the bill restricted his ability to bring U.S. troops home from “foreign lands who do NOTHING for us.”
And Trump has demanded the removal of language that allows the renaming of U.S. military bases that honor leaders of the Confederacy, which seceded from the United States in the early 1860s, before collapsing at the end of the Civil War in 1865.
McConnell introduced a measure Tuesday that ties together some of Trump’s complaints about the defense bill and the president’s demand for higher coronavirus pandemic relief payments that were part of a massive funding bill signed Sunday.
Trump had harshly criticized that bill as well, before relenting while he demanded the $600 payments be increased.
Democrats have long supported the higher payments, and the Democrat-majority House quickly approved them.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer objected to McConnell’s attempt to tie the stimulus money to Trump’s demands on social media companies and allegations of election fraud.
“Senator McConnell knows how to make $2,000 survival checks reality and he knows how to kill them,” Schumer said Tuesday. “If Sen. McConnell tries loading up the bipartisan House-passed CASH Act with unrelated, partisan provisions that will do absolutely nothing to help struggling families across the country, it will not pass the House and cannot become law – any move like this by Sen. McConnell would be a blatant attempt to deprive Americans of a $2,000 survival check.”
McConnell blocked Schumer’s attempt Tuesday to force an immediate up-or-down vote on the stand-alone measure authorizing the $2,000 payments.
How the Republican-majority Senate will proceed with the two proposals is not clear.
Some Republicans have expressed support for the bigger coronavirus payments to those with annual family incomes of up to $150,000, comprising about 81% of all U.S. households. Among the Republican proponents are Georgia’s two embattled senators — David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — who are facing run-off elections against Democratic challengers next week who also favor the bigger payments.
But some Republicans have voiced opposition, saying the bigger payments would be too costly and would not necessarily boost the U.S. economy, which has been staggered by the coronavirus pandemic.