With less than a month to go before he is forced to leave office, Donald Trump suffered another political defeat today when the United States House of Representatives voted to override his veto of the 2020 William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act.
This is the first time that the House has overriden a Trump veto. The vote on passage (Objections of the President to the Contrary Notwithstanding) was three hundred and twenty-two to eighty-seven. Twenty Democrats voted against overriding Trump, along with sixty-six Republicans and one independent.
The Senate is expected to join the override party within a few days.
“With this overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, the House has upheld our sacred Constitutional responsibility to keep our country and our people safe,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “The National Defense Authorization Act has been passed on a bipartisan and bicameral manner for sixty years, and it will become law, despite the President’s dangerous sabotage efforts.”
“The President’s reckless veto would have denied our servicemembers hazard duty pay; our families paid family leave, child care, housing improvements and health protections; and our veterans their benefits,” Pelosi added.
“It would have senselessly deprived our allies and country of key protections for global peace and security — including for cyber-security, following a massive attack on our country. And it would have undermined our nation’s values and work to combat racism, by blocking overwhelmingly bipartisan action to rename military bases and infrastructure after officials who served in the Confederacy.”
“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 declared.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Mark Pocan and our own Pramila Jayapal were among the twenty stalwart progressive Democrats who voted against the veto override, though their objections to the legislation differ from many of the Republicans who also voted not to override.
Jayapal outlined her thinking on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act in a statement sent to NPI earlier this month.
“My position on defense spending has been clear from the start: We are simply spending too much on the Pentagon, an agency that continues to function without a full audit and with tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars, without benefit to national security,” observed Jayapal in a December 12th press release.
“Pentagon spending has become a way to ensure giveaways to defense contractors who relentlessly lobby for and profit off of our country’s unsustainable military budget. As a result, I opposed the NDAA conference report.”
“I had originally hoped that we would be able to get other critically needed restraints on unauthorized and endless wars — through repealing the 2002 AUMF, working to end US participation in the war in Yemen, and stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The original House bill also prohibited President Trump from drawing down military funds to build his vanity wall.”
“However, these very provisions were stripped out by Republicans,” Jayapal lamented. “It would have been hard to vote for the bill with those provisions but without them, it was impossible. I do appreciate Chairman Adam Smith pushing for these provisions through the process, and I am proud that my critical amendment to drive cuts to military spending in 2020 and 2021, by requiring a series of comprehensive, independent studies to guide those cuts.”
“It is also an enormous victory that the bill includes twelve weeks of paid family leave for all federal government employees. It is a big win for the two million Americans who work for the federal government and we must do all we can to extend this benefit to all American families.”
“I intend to continue to work hard to rein in defense spending and invest more resources in programs that promote peace, protect our planet, and provide the American people more opportunity here at home.”
NPI agrees with Representative Jayapal. We are spending far, far too much money on tanks, fighter jets, stealth ships and other weaponry in this country. There is woefully insufficient oversight of the Pentagon’s budget, and we award far too many wasteful defense contracts. There is little interest in Congress in demanding that our military practice effective procurement. That needs to change.
That said, we are also appreciative of Adam Smith’s efforts to move us forward.
Smith had this to say about the successful veto override:
“Today the House reiterated – in a resounding, bipartisan way – that our service members and national security are more important than politics. By overriding the President’s veto, the House prioritized compromise and sound policy over legislative nihilism and blind political loyalty. By overriding the President’s veto, the House asserted the role of the legislative branch and underscored the importance of our constitutional separation of powers. But most importantly, today’s veto override ensures that our service members and their families have the resources they need to continue to execute their missions and defend our country.”
The roll call from the Pacific Northwest was as follows:
Voting To Override Trump’s Veto: Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Denny Heck (WA), Peter DeFazio (OR); Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Greg Walden (OR), Mike Simpson (ID), Greg Gianforte (MT), Don Young (AK)
Voting To Sustain Trump’s Veto: Democratic Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA), Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer (OR), Republican Representative Russ Fulcher (ID)
The Constitution stipulates that a bill vetoed by the President of the United States can be overridden with a two-thirds vote of each chamber of Congress:
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law.
– Excerpt from Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution
Republicans control the Senate and have enough members in the House of the Representatives to sustain any Trump veto, so it is significant that Trump’s loudly announced veto of the bipartisan NDAA isn’t going to hold up.
It is widely known that Trump cannot bear losing, but losing is pretty much all he’s been doing lately, aside from pardoning his criminal cronies.