Senate approves annual defense spending act by veto-proof ma…

The National Defense Authorization Act is headed to President Trump’s desk for a signature after the Senate approved the annual defense spending bill by an overwhelming majority on Friday. Mr. Trump has threatened to veto the bill, setting up a test for congressional Republicans who may grant the president his veto override in the waning days of his administration.

The bill passed in the Senate with 84-13 votes, clearing the 67-vote threshold needed to override a presidential veto. It passed in the House earlier this week by a vote of 335 to 78. If Mr. Trump does follow through on his promise to veto the bill, Congress would have to vote again on the measure, which would once more need the support from two-thirds of each chamber in order to become law. The NDAA has passed every year for the past 59 years, and most congressional Republicans seem unwilling to break that streak.

Mr. Trump has complained about the inclusion of a provision which would create a commission to study renaming bases named for Confederate officials, as well as exclusion of a repeal for a policy that protects social media companies from liability for certain types of content. Many members of Congress, including some Republicans, have argued that repealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is unrelated to national security.

Senator Rand Paul objected to swift passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Thursday, preventing the Senate from passing the bill with unanimous consent. Paul opposed a provision limiting the president’s power to draw down troops in Afghanistan. Senators had hoped to pass the NDAA on Thursday, but Paul, a Republican, said he will only drop his opposition if GOP leadership agrees to hold a vote on the bill on Monday, which would require senators to go through procedural motions.

However, holding up the vote on the NDAA also meant delaying a vote on a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown. Government funding expires at 11:59 p.m. on Friday unless the Senate passes this bill extending the deadline to December 18, and it is signed by the president. Paul told reporters on Friday that he would not try to stall a vote on this continuing resolution.

“Our main point in filibustering the defense authorization bill was to point out that the president should have the prerogative to end a war, not just to start wars,” Paul told reporters on Friday. “I think it’s a pretty important principle to discuss, so we did hold things up for a day on that, but we’re not going to” on the continuing resolution. He added that he did not “have a choice” to continue to stall the vote on the NDAA.

The Senate passed the continuing resolution Friday afternoon..

With the NDAA approved with a veto-proof majority, Congress can now set its focus on an omnibus government funding bill as well as negotiating a coronavirus relief proposal, as talks have stalled in recent days.

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