WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Lawmakers this week will seek to override President Donald Trump’s recent veto of a $740 billion bill setting policy for the Defense Department.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved the measure Monday afternoon. The Senate is expected to follow on Tuesday.
The 322-87 House vote, in which 109 Republicans joined Democrats to override Trump’s veto, leaves the bill’s fate to the Republican-led Senate, where a final vote is expected this week. If the Senate seconds the House action, the bill becomes law. It would be the first veto override of Trump’s presidency.
Trump said he vetoed the legislation, which has passed every year since 1961, 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.
Trump also opposed a provision to rename military bases named after generals who fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the Civil War.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi welcomed what she described as “an overwhelming bipartisan” vote to override Trump’s rejection of the bill and predicted the legislation would become law despite the president’s “dangerous sabotage efforts.”
“The president must end his eleventh-hour campaign of chaos and stop using his final moments in office to obstruct bipartisan and bicameral action to protect our military and defend our security,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Twenty Democrats, including the prominent progressive Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, opposed the override.
Although his previous eight vetoes were all upheld thanks to support from Republicans, advisers said this one looked likely to be overridden.
The bill passed both houses of Congress with margins greater than the two-thirds majorities that would be needed to override the president’s veto.
Representative Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, urged Republicans ahead of the vote not to side with the president.
“The world is watching what we do,” the Texas Republican said. “I would only ask that as members vote, they put the best interests of the country first. There is no other consideration that should matter.”
The annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, determines everything from how many ships are bought to soldiers’ pay to how to address geopolitical threats. The measure vetoed by Trump was a compromise, combining separate measures already passed in the House and Senate.
Reporting by Reuters’ David Morgan, editing by Alistair Bell and Aurora Ellis