Dec 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

House passes defense spending bill with veto-proof majority despite Trump opposition

Trump wears a suit while standing next to a podium with the presidential seal on it

President Trump in the Oval Office on Dec. 7. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

The House voted 335-78 on Tuesday to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes a must-pass $740 million budget for defense spending.

Why it matters: The bill passed with a veto-proof majority. But it remains unclear whether the same number of Republicans would vote to override a presidential veto.

  • The large number of GOP votes shows how strong the bipartisan support is for this legislation, which has passed every year without fail for more than half a century.
  • President Trump has repeatedly foreshadowed a veto of the bill this year, demanding that Congress repeal a federal law that protects social media sites from legal liability.
  • Trump's opposition also grew after an amendment was added to rename 10 military bases that referenced the Confederacy.
  • Most lawmakers have said they expect they have the votes to override a potential veto if Trump follows through with his warning.

Details: The bill also provides a pay raise for troops and would give paid parental leave for federal employees.

  • The Elijah Cummings Federal Employee Anti-Discrimination Act — which would require federal agencies to create equal employment opportunity programs and protect workers from retaliation — is also included.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Alayna Treene: Trump is still threatening to veto the defense spending bill, but it has strong bipartisan support. Most lawmakers hope that Trump's veto threats are hollow and that he'll cave once both chambers pass the bill with significant Republican support.

  • Republican lawmakers also believe they have the votes to override a veto if needed.

What to watch: Although he said he would support the defense spending bill, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that he would not override a presidential veto — putting him at odds with other top GOP members, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo).

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