Reprinted with permission from American Independent
Sixty-six House Republicans voted to uphold Donald Trump's veto of a must-pass annual defense authorization bill on Monday, despite 25 of them previously voting for the exact same legislation weeks ago.
Despite the defections, more than the required two-thirds of the House voted to override Trump, 322-87.
The annual legislation passed in the House and Senate earlier this month with a bipartisan supermajority in each chamber. Then, 140 House Republicans and 42 GOP senators backed the $731.6 billion legislation to set funding levels and policies for the nation's defense and authorize pay increases for America's armed service members.
Trump ultimately vetoed the bill on Wednesday — at the last possible moment — objecting to provisions that required the renaming of military bases named for Confederate figures and to the fact that Congress did not insert unrelated provisions to punish social media companies he believes unfairly are biased against conservatives.
"My Administration respects the legacy of the millions of American servicemen and women who have served with honor at these military bases, and who, from these locations, have fought, bled, and died for their country," Trump wrote in his veto message. "I have been clear in my opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to wash away history and to dishonor the immense progress our country has fought for in realizing our founding principles."
Under the Constitution, if the president vetoes a bill, Congress can override it if both two-thirds of the members of the House and two-thirds of the Senate vote to do so.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy voted for the original bill, but later made clear that he would put loyalty to Trump over support for the military.
"I don't believe Republicans, in our work with the president always, that you vote to override a veto," the California Republican told reporters before the original vote, though he predicted that he and the rest of his caucus "would stand with the president," and sustain a veto if Trump killed the legislation.
McCarthy skipped Monday's vote.
Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS) also voted for the bill initially, but voted with Trump on Monday. In a press statement, he explained that he was doing so because members of the military "bravely defend the rights and freedoms of Americans every day," claiming that "our freedom of speech is also under attack here at home from big tech companies. This has been especially evident in acknowledging voter fraud on social media that is then flagged or censored."
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) said he flipped entirely because Trump said to. "I had some reservations with certain provisions in the NDAA; but, as a veteran, I felt responsible to ensure our national defense and military were properly funded, which is why I voted for the NDAA earlier this month," he wrote in a statement. "However, no one has a better pulse on the security of this nation and our military than the President of the United States, and I believe his objections to the bill are reasonable and intended to protect all Americans."
Among the other prominent Republicans who voted for the bill before Trump's veto but later defected were Republican Policy Committee chair Gary Palmer of Alabama, National Republican Congressional Committee chair Tom Emmer of Minnesota, recent party-switcher Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, and Rep. Devin Nunes of California.
Now, the bill goes to the Senate, where an override vote attempt was planned for Tuesday, although Sen. Bernie Sanders has vowed to slow the veto override unless the Republicans permit a floor vote on a $2000 pandemic relief payment. If at least two-thirds of the senators follow the House's lead, it will mark the first veto override of Trump's presidency — days before he leaves office.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.