Trump defense bill veto threat could shorten Congressional holiday break

Politicians hoping for a timely end to the year’s business may not get their wish, thanks in part to a veto threat from President Donald Trump.

With work left to be done on spending negotiations and an override vote looming over a defense bill, Congress may be left in Washington longer than anticipated, the Washington Examiner reports.

Bi-partisan support for defense bill

Congress still is working to hammer out a COVID-19 relief bill, something it has failed to do for months, and which lawmakers plan to bundle into an omnibus spending bill for the Fiscal Year 2021 that also remains unfinished.

Lawmakers have been hampered by fairly predictable partisan obstacles in these efforts, but there is bi-partisan support for the National Defense Authorization Act, a yearly “must-pass” $740 billion defense spending bill.

However, Trump has taken issue with the NDAA over its failure to target Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a statute that Trump and many conservatives say gives undue protection to censorious Big Tech companies, as well as a proposal to rename military bases named after Confederate generals, which became a bigger issue amid the George Floyd protests.

Trump’s opposition to the NDAA has prompted Congress to discuss returning to Washington for an override, which requires two-thirds of both chambers of Congress to overturn the president, even if it means cutting Christmas vacation short.

“I hope so. That would be my expectation,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said when asked if Congress would return early if needed.

Unfinished business

The president reiterated his demands Tuesday, shortly before the House passed the bill. 

Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats are slated to pass a stopgap spending bill to fund the government until December 18, as they continue to struggle with negotiating a spending bill for 2021 and COVID-19 relief, the Examiner reports.

Longstanding differences concerning coronavirus spending are still in play, such as funding for state and local governments and liability protections for businesses. But controversies from this year touching on race have impacted spending negotiations as well, with Democrats insisting that next year’s spending bill include police reform provisions.

“We’ve reached the time of year when the Senate has more important outstanding business than we have days to complete it,” Senate Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Monday.

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