ByDecember 23, 2020
President Donald Trump has vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) because it fails to remove Section 230—the liability shield that protects social media companies, among other reasons.
“Unfortunately, the Act fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions,” he said in a Dec. 23 statement. “It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia.”
The NDAA, the president said, fails to make changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, even though both Republicans and Democrats have called for it to be repealed. Conservatives have said it enables social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook to engage in censorship of dissenting views, and some progressives have said the law fails to take “hate speech” posted on those platforms into account.
Trump said the 1996 law “must be repealed,” as it allows “the spread of foreign disinformation online,” making it a “serious threat to our national security and election integrity.”
After Trump threatened to veto the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he’s prepared to override the veto in the Senate. The NDAA was passed earlier this month with overwhelming bipartisan support.
“In the event that the president has vetoed the bill, and the House has voted to override the veto, the Senate would have the opportunity to process a veto override at that time,” McConnell said on Dec. 22.
McConnell announced on the floor: “The Democratic Leader and I have agreed to unanimous request as follows: The Senate will meet for pro forma sessions only until December 29th, when we will return to session.”
McConnell previously said the bill boosts the military against adversaries such as Russia and the Chinese Communist Party.
The president, however, said that the NDAA goes directly against his foreign policy positions, namely his efforts to bring U.S. troops back from Afghanistan, South Korea, and Germany.
“Not only is this bad policy, but it is unconstitutional,” he wrote. “Article II of the Constitution makes the President the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States and vests in him the executive power. Therefore, the decision regarding how many troops to deploy and where, including in Afghanistan, Germany, and South Korea, rests with him.”
The president also took issue with renaming certain military installations that have historical significance.
“My Administration respects the legacy of the millions of American servicemen and women who have served with honor at these military bases, and who, from these locations, have fought, bled, and died for their country,” Trump wrote.
“From these facilities, we have won two World Wars. I have been clear in my opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to wash away history and to dishonor the immense progress our country has fought for in realizing our founding principles.”
Earlier in the week, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Republican in the upper chamber, said it could take several days to go through the legislative process after Trump vetoes the bill.
“It will take more than one day if we have objections, and I think we probably will. So the question is, if the House, if they override it, then … we’ll have to set it up, and it may take a few days to do that,” Thune told reporters.
The comment came as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who voted against the $732 billion bill, said he would work to slow down the vote after Trump’s veto.
“I very much am opposed to the Afghan war, and I’ve told them I’ll come back to try to prevent them from easily overriding the president’s veto,” he said.