A showdown between President Donald Trump and members of Congress is likely on the way.
After Trump vowed to go nuclear by vetoing a key defense spending bill if it didn’t contain a provision ending controversial protections for Big Tech, the commander-in-chief may soon come face-to-face with “the only likely veto override of his presidency,” the Washington Examiner reported Saturday.
“I will VETO!”
Trump first suggested he would veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — an annual bill that, according to ABC News, includes a 3% pay raise for America’s troops this year — if it didn’t contain language that eliminated Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
Among other things, Section 230 protects tech companies like social media platforms — including Facebook and Twitter — from being held liable for the content that users post to their sites. But in the eyes of the president, it’s a “serious threat to our national security [and] election integrity.”
Trump wrote in a tweet Tuesday:
…..Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2020
Just two days later, when it started looking like even Republicans wouldn’t be pushing for a repeal of Section 230 in the NDAA, Trump doubled down.
Very sadly for our Nation, it looks like Senator @JimInhofe will not be putting the Section 230 termination clause into the Defense Bill. So bad for our National Security and Election Integrity. Last chance to ever get it done. I will VETO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2020
Tough battle looms
According to the Washington Examiner, however, even a presidential veto might not be enough to stop the NDAA from passing. The outlet reported that Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe (R), who Trump mentioned by name in his Thursday tweet, said “he believes [the bill] will have at least the support of two-thirds of the Senate, which is enough to override a veto.”
As it stands, the bill indeed has bipartisan support, and Democrats have said they wouldn’t back a bill that eliminated Section 230, as Trump has demanded.
But a standard veto is not Trump’s only move. As the Examiner noted, Trump could try for a “pocket veto,” which is allowed at the end of a session when Congress adjourns; the president simply “pockets” a bill without signing it, a move Congress can’t override. Of course, Congress could opt not to formally adjourn, which is common, especially in recent decades, according to the Examiner.
It all adds up to what is likely to be a contentious battle ahead.