Defense bill veto override passes House. Update: Filibuster?

(Please see update at end of article)

It’s never happened during Donald Trump’s presidency, but last night it certainly looked like it might, just as 2020 is drawing to a close. The vote to override the President’s veto of the NDAA (defense spending bill) wasn’t even close in the end, coming in at 322-87. Some of the usual suspects who never support any spending on the military voted against it (from both parties) but for the most part, the measure received broad, bipartisan support. The two-thirds requirement for an override was easily surpassed with room to spare. Now the fate of the veto rests in the hands of Midnight Mitch. (Associated Press)

The Democratic-controlled House voted overwhelmingly to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a defense policy bill, setting the stage for what would be the first veto override of his presidency.

House members voted 322-87 on Monday to override the veto, well above the two-thirds needed to override. The Senate, which is expected to vote on the override this week, also needs to approve it by a two-thirds majority.

Trump rejected the defense bill last week, saying it failed to limit social media companies he claims were biased against him during his failed reelection campaign. Trump also opposes language that allows for the renaming of military bases that honor Confederate leaders.

It’s still unclear what the President’s strategy was here and how he thought he could avoid this. The original vote on the NDAA in the Senate was 84-13 in favor of passage. While a couple of Trump’s die-hard supporters in the upper chamber might switch sides at the last minute, there doesn’t appear to be any chance that he’ll get the nearly twenty defectors he would need to make the veto hold up. Cocaine Mitch has been fairly quiet on the subject, but he’s never been any sort of dove that doesn’t support fully funding the military.

The GOP also has to remember that we’re only days away from the runoff elections in Georgia. There are a lot of military bases and facilities in the Peach State and millions of families who are directly impacted by defense spending or a lack thereof. Having the Republicans cause the spending bill to fail would be a huge, last-minute gift to Ossoff and Warnock. For that reason, as much as they have been vocal supporters of Donald Trump, you can expect to see David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler backing the move to override the veto also.

Put me in the same camp as them. Ever since this issue bubbled to the surface a couple of weeks ago, I’ve only heard President Trump citing three reasons for vetoing the NDAA in the first place. He objected to a lack of a provision to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the mandate to rename some bases honoring Confederate leaders, and he claimed that the current bill would be “a gift to China and Russia.”

Taking these complaints in order, Section 230 has absolutely nothing to do with defense spending and it has no place cluttering up this bill. As for the renaming of the bases, I’m no fan of erasing our history as regular readers know. But it’s looking increasingly like that ship has sailed and supporters of such name changes have won over a significant number of Republicans on top of overwhelming support from liberal activists. That’s a fight that will probably have to wait for another day.

How a massive spending bill to pay our troops and fund the military can be construed as “a gift to Russia and China” is a mystery as far as I’m concerned. Lacking a more detailed explanation, that sounds like it was more of a throwaway line to justify breaking out the veto stamp.

I’ll be the first to stand up and point out that Congress frequently messes up, but in this instance, I have to offer the swamp-dwellers a tip of my hat. I didn’t want to see the President’s term end in some sort of food fight between him and his own party in the legislative branch, but this bill needed to be passed and the veto had to be overridden.

UPDATE: (Jazz)

The override of the veto hit another stumbling block. Bernie Sanders is promising to filibuster the veto override unless the Senate schedules a vote on the $2,000 direct payment relief checks. (Politico)

Sen. Bernie Sanders will filibuster an override of President Donald Trump’s defense bill veto unless the Senate holds a vote on providing $2,000 direct payments to Americans.

“McConnell and the Senate want to expedite the override vote and I understand that. But I’m not going to allow that to happen unless there is a vote, no matter how long that takes, on the $2,000 direct payment,” Sanders said in an interview on Monday night. The Vermont independent can’t ultimately stop the veto override vote, but he can delay it until New Year’s Day and make things more difficult for the GOP.

Sanders is being too clever by half here and he openly admitted what he’s doing. He’s not opposed to overriding the veto at all. He’s threatening this maneuver mostly to impact the Georgia Senate runoff races. If he can keep the Senate in session through New Year’s and delay the vote, he can potentially keep both Perdue and Loeffler off the campaign trail and in Washington. Also, if he can manage to force a vote on the $2,000 checks (which are opposed by the GOP), he will allow Ossoff and Warnock to use their votes against them if they don’t vote in favor of the larger checks. Alternately, they can vote in favor, but that would likely give the measure enough votes to pass, handing a big defeat to McConnell and the Republican leadership. This is a dangerous juncture for the GOP.