WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The Senate met to formally debate whether to override President Trump’s defense bill veto. This could pave the way for Congress to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the key defense bill, which would be the first veto override in his presidency.
The Senate is set to continue the debate Friday afternoon.
The Senate voted Wednesday to begin an official debate on overriding the president’s veto of the 2021 defense policy bill. The Senate voted 80-12. The Senate also discussed the fate of the potential 2,000 stimulus checks for struggling Americans Wednesday.
Trump on Tuesday ramped-up pressure on his fellow Republicans to support his decision to veto the bill because it does not repeal certain legal protections for tech giants, and to back $2,000 one-time stimulus checks for struggling Americans.
The president attacked Republican leaders on Twitter, as “pathetic,” and warned that the party had a “death wish” if it did not back the bigger payments. He also called again for scrapping social media company legal protections.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, blocked a quick vote on the checks and urged lawmakers to override Trump’s veto. If successful, the veto override would be the first such congressional rebuke of Trump.
The House of Representatives overturned his veto on Monday. The final passage of the override could come later in the week or over the weekend.
The defense bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA, affirms 3% pay raises for U.S. troops and authorizes more than $740 billion in military programs and construction.
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.”
Trump also opposed a provision to rename military bases named after generals who fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the Civil War.
McConnell said Tuesday that approval of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, is crucial to the nation’s defense and to “deter great-power rivals like China and Russia.”
The bill “will cement our advantage on the seas, on land, in the air, in cyberspace and in space,” McConnell said.
Late on Tuesday, McConnell introduced a bill that combined the $2,000 checks with a provision scrapping the social media company protections and another to study election security, a major issue for Trump who has issued unfounded claims of election fraud.
McConnell said Wednesday on the Senate floor that the bill passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, which sought to meet Trump’s demands for bigger checks, “has no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate,” and McConnell’s proposed alternative approach of loading up the bill with other White House priorities appeared destined to fail; no votes are scheduled in the Senate on either stimulus check-related measure.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.