U.S. Senate Overrides Trump Veto of Major Defense Bill

Republicans override Trump veto for first time in his presidency, 20 days before his term ends

Ben Samuels
Washington, D.C.
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Donald Trump and Melania Trump walk off Air Force One after arriving at Andrews Airforce base, Maryland on December 31, 2020.
Donald Trump and Melania Trump walk off Air Force One after arriving at Andrews Airforce base, Maryland on December 31, 2020. Credit: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP
Ben Samuels
Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump's fellow Republicans in the U.S. Senate on Friday overrode his veto for the first time in his nearly four years in office, pushing through a bill on defense spending against his strong objections 20 days before he leaves office.

Meeting in a rare New Year's Day session, the Senate voted 81-13 to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto with bipartisan support two days before a new Congress will be sworn in on Sunday. Eight previous vetoes have been upheld.

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Republican lawmakers have largely stood by the president during his turbulent White House term. Since losing his re-election bid in November, Trump has lashed out at them for not fully backing his unsupported claims of voting fraud, rejecting his demand for bigger COVID-19 relief checks and for moving toward the veto override.

The Republican-led Senate reconvened midday to take up the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which determines everything from how many ships are bought to soldiers' pay and how to address geopolitical threats.

Trump refused to sign it into law because it does not repeal certain legal protections for tech companies. He also objects to a provision stripping the names of Confederate generals from military bases.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives at the U.S. Capitol on January 1, 2021 in Washington, D.C.Credit: Liz Lynch/Getty Images/AFP

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.

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