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Trump vetoes annual defence bill; cites certain provisions as risk to national security

The US Congress last week passed the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021. It was passed in the US House of Representatives by a vote of 335-78-1 and in the Senate by a vote of 84-13.

By: PTI | Washington | December 24, 2020 12:13:07 pm
Donald trump, annual defence bill, US national security, Trump vetoes annual defence bill, US news, world newsTrump's rare presidential move drew sharp reactions from the top American lawmakers, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi describing it as a reckless decision. (AP)

US President Donald Trump has vetoed the USD 740.5 billion annual defence bill, saying that certain provisions in it posed risk to the national security even as the House geared up to override the veto with bipartisan support.

The US Congress last week passed the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021. It was passed in the US House of Representatives by a vote of 335-78-1 and in the Senate by a vote of 84-13.

“Your failure to terminate the very dangerous national security risk of Section 230 will make our intelligence virtually impossible to conduct without everyone knowing what we are doing at every step. The Act fails even to make any meaningful changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, despite bipartisan calls for repealing that provision,” Trump said in a statement justifying his move to veto the bill on Wednesday.

Trump’s rare presidential move drew sharp reactions from the top American lawmakers, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi describing it as a reckless decision.

“Next week, December 28, the House will take up the veto override with bipartisan support,” Pelosi said.

Trump said the Act also includes language that would require the renaming of certain military installations. The Act also restricts the president’s ability to preserve our nation’s security by arbitrarily limiting the amount of military construction funds that can be used to respond to a national emergency, he said.

In a time when adversaries have the means to directly attack the homeland, the president must be able to safeguard the American people without having to wait for congressional authorisation, he said.

The Act also contains an amendment that would slow down the rollout of nationwide 5G, especially in rural areas, he alleged.

Trump said that numerous provisions of the Act directly contradict his administration’s foreign policy, particularly his efforts to bring the troops home.

“I oppose endless wars, as does the American public. Over bipartisan objections, however, this Act purports to restrict the President’s ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Germany, and South Korea. Not only is this bad policy, but it is unconstitutional,” he said.

Noting that for 60 years, the NDAA has been passed on a bipartisan and bicameral basis, Pelosi said, “the President’s veto of the National Defense Authorisation Act is an act of staggering recklessness that harms our troops, endangers our security and undermines the will of the bipartisan Congress.”

Pelosi said that Trump’s veto violates national values, as it would block action to rename military bases and infrastructure named after those who served in the Confederacy — which is supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people, by House and Senate Democrats and Republicans and by service members and top military leaders.

By choosing to veto the NDAA, Trump has made it clear that he does not care about the needs of US military personnel and their families, said Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

“If the FY21 NDAA does not become law, more than 100,000 federal employees will be deprived of the paid parental leave benefits they deserve, necessary military construction projects will not move forward on schedule, and our service members who are in harm’s way defending our country’s principles will not have access to the hazard pay they are owed,” he said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that NDAA was a product of true bipartisanship and reflects Congress’ commitment to the safety and success of men and women in uniform.

“It passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate because it represents a compromise on key issues and will ensure that our military personnel have the tools they need to carry out their missions while our nation’s highest values are upheld,” he said.

“Shamefully, this President believes that it is more important to honour defenders of slavery and segregation than it is to sign legislation paying our troops and keeping them safe. As a result of the President’s irresponsible action, the House will meet on Monday, December 28, to override his veto and reaffirm support for our troops, our American values, and a robust national defence,” Hoyer said.

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