Trump vetoes $ 740 billion NDAA defense bill

President Donald Trump listens during a White House video conference with members of the military on November 26, 2020.

Erin Schaff | The New York Times | Bloomberg | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the comprehensive defense proposal that permits a $ 740 billion top line in spending and outlines Pentagon policy.

“Unfortunately, the law does not contain critical national security measures, contains provisions that do not respect our veterans and our military history, and contradicts my government’s efforts to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions,” Trump wrote in a lengthy statement to Congress.

“It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia,” the president added without mentioning specific details.

Earlier this month, the National Defense Authorization Act passed both congresses with veto-safe margins, meaning any veto from Trump is likely to be overruled.

Congress must now vote again to override Trump. Lawmakers are scheduled to return from vacation Monday.

This year’s 4,517-page defense proposal, which typically passes with strong bipartisan support and a veto-proof majority, finances America’s national security portfolio. It has been signed into law for nearly six consecutive decades.

The passage of the bill at least secures soldier salaries and keeps crucial defense modernization programs going.

Trump has offered a number of different reasons to oppose the defense proposal. Earlier this month, he threatened to veto if lawmakers did not include a measure to remove section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects technology giants like Facebook and Twitter from being held legally responsible for what is posted on their platforms. Trump has repeatedly accused Twitter, his chosen social media platform, of unfairly censoring him.

Trump renewed the threat last week.

In his address to Congress, Trump wrote that the NDAA failed to “make any meaningful changes to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.” He called on Congress to repeal the measure.

The president has previously said the measure posed a serious threat to U.S. national security as well as electoral integrity, but gave no further explanatory details. Trump has also claimed that the bill favors China.

The president’s problem with section 230 emerged this summer after Twitter added warning stickers to several of his tweets that the alleged mail-in poll is fake. Trump still has not admitted the election of President-elect Joe Biden.

The NDAA, in its current form, does not include any measure related to section 230.

Trump has also insisted that the defense spending proposal includes language that prevents the renaming of military bases in memory of the Confederate era.

The Republican-led Armed Services Committee over the summer approved over the summer a decree from Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Requiring the Pentagon to rename military assets named after symbols of the Confederacy, the group of states that withdrew from the United States and fought. The Union in the Civil War.

Trump rejected this idea in a multi-tweet post in June, claiming that the Confederate names on the bases have become part of the nation’s great “heritage.”

“It has been suggested that we rename as many as 10 of our legendary military bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc. These monumental and very powerful bases have become part of a Great American heritage and a story of winning, victory and freedom, ”Trump wrote on Twitter.

“The United States trained and deployed our HEROES in these holy places and won two world wars. Therefore, my administration will not even consider renaming these magnificent and legendary military installations,” the president wrote.

CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report.