Trump Vetoes Major Defense Bill, Despite Strong Support From Congress

Veto raises the possibility that the National Defense Authorization Act will fail to become law for the first time in 60 years, although lawmakers are expected to override it

Ben Samuels
Reuters
Washington
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Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at a rally to support Republican Senate candidates in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5, 2020.
Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at a rally to support Republican Senate candidates in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5, 2020.Credit: Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP
Ben Samuels
Reuters
Washington

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump vetoed a $740 billion bill setting policy for the Department of Defense on Wednesday, despite its strong support in Congress, raising the possibility that the measure will fail to become law for the first time in 60 years.

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Trump said he vetoed the annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, because it "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."

"It is a 'gift' to China and Russia," he said in a message to the House of Representatives.

Although his previous eight vetoes were all upheld thanks to support from Trump's fellow Republicans in Congress, advisers said this one looked likely to be overridden, just weeks before he leaves office on January 20. 

The defense bill stipulates $3.3 billion of the $740 billion in defense funding goes toward Israeli military assistance, including $200 million for missile defense programs.

It also permits the U.S. to send Israel precision-guided munitions from reserve stocks in case of emergency, as well as the United States Agency for International Development to advance cooperation with Israel.

In addition, the legislation dedicates funding for non-military initiatives, including programs related to health technology, energy, agriculture and other potential areas of development. It also establishes a U.S.-Israel operations-technology cooperation to help Israel on research and development of technology used for national defense.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised how the NDAA specifically "further strengthens our partnership with Israel" while addressing the bill on the House floor earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Trump demanded dramatic changes to a $2.3 trillion package that funds the federal government and provides nearly $900 billion in coronavirus aid.

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