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Congress shoots down Trump’s threat to veto defense bill

Published: (Updated: ) in USA news by .

Top Republicans and Democrats plan to ignore the president’s eleventh-hour demand to repeal a legal shield for social media companies.

Congress is moving forward on a must-pass defense policy bill without repealing a legal shield for social media companies, despite a last-minute veto threat from President Donald Trump.

The final version of the National Defense Authorization Act that will soon be considered by the House and Senate won’t include Trump’s long-sought repeal of the legal immunity for online companies, known as Section 230, according to lawmakers and aides.

“At this last minute, this sudden threat on an item that’s not even part of a defense bill. … I don’t think we could do it in a thoughtful, logical way at all,” Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told POLITICO.

Key Republicans also made clear they weren’t going to bend to Trump.

Senate Armed Services Chair Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that while he agrees with Trump on Section 230, the provision “has nothing to do with the military.”

“You can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill,” Inhofe said, adding that he has conveyed that belief to Trump.

In a pair of tweets Tuesday evening, Trump threatened to veto the bill if it does not include repealing Section 230, which he has criticized as a shield for social media companies whom the president believes are biased against him.

“It seems to be more out of spite than anything else,” Reed said of the president’s threat, warning that Trump’s posture threatens several important policy moves, including a pay raise for U.S. troops.

The House is also set to move forward with a compromise defense bill that doesn’t alter Section 230, according to two House Democratic aides.

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Trump’s veto threat is the latest obstacle to getting what is usually an annual, bipartisan priority through Congress. The bill has also been held up over Trump’s objections to a provision that would remove the names of Confederate leaders from Army bases.

The president’s Twitter broadside puts Republicans in a bind as they look to maintain the support of Trump and his base heading into the Georgia runoffs next month that will determine control of the Senate. If GOP lawmakers back Trump, they risk tanking the popular military policy bill that's become law each year for nearly six decades; if they buck him by ignoring his complaints or overriding a veto, they risk stoking Trump’s ire.

Still, Republicans on Wednesday showed some signs of exasperation with the president’s latest effort. As one GOP lawmaker put it: “Republicans are sick of this shit.”

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, put it more delicately. While he said he understood the president’s frustrations with Section 230, it was not worth imperiling the broader defense bill.

“The NDAA is so important to the men and women that wear the uniform that this should not be an item to veto the act over,” he said. “So I would hope he would reconsider his position on it.”

Heather Caygle and Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.

Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

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