WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Congress will be returning to the nation’s capital, in the middle of what was supposed to be their holiday break, to consider whether to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the $740 billion defense bill.
This is the first time in 59 years the National Defense Authorization Act has been vetoed by the president. The bipartisan bill has already been overwhelmingly passed in both the House and Senate.
“We have to override it,” Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, said.
Reed, who is also the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said there are enough votes to override Trump’s veto and enact the legislation.
He said the president’s veto will deny service members more pay and compromise national security, all while sending a terrible message to our adversaries.
“Frankly, they’re sitting back and having a chuckle on us,” Reed said.
Prior to vetoing the bill, Trump called it a “gift” to China and Russia.
“Once again finding a reason to excuse Russian malign behavior,” Reed said.
Rep. Jim Langevin, D-Rhode Island, said he’s “profoundly disappointed” in Trump’s decision.
He said the bill also includes vital cybersecurity measures to prevent intrusions like those allegedly carried out by Russian hackers on federal agencies.
“There’s over 27 strong provisions on cybersecurity,” Langevin said.
Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-New York, called the veto “irresponsible.”
“It’s a Christmas gift that none of us really wanted,” he said, vowing that Congress will do what’s right for our troops. “We will override this veto and send a clear signal to our adversaries that we are united.”
Trump took issue with bill from the on-set, focusing on a provision to rename military bases named after confederate leaders and a desire to crack down on social media companies.
Rep. Tom Rice, R-South Carolina, voted against the defense bill, and called Trump’s veto “appropriate.”
But the vast majority of Republicans voted for the bill, and like Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois, they plan to do so again.
“That veto will be overridden by a wide margin,” Davis said.
Both the House and Senate will return to Washington next week to cast votes and attempt to override the veto.