GOP urges Trump not to tank defense bill over tech fight

GOP urges Trump not to tank defense bill over tech fight
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Republicans on Wednesday signaled that President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Korea conducts potential 6th missile test in a month Kemp leading Perdue in Georgia gubernatorial primary: poll US ranked 27th least corrupt country in the world MORE should not sink a must-pass defense policy bill over a fight with tech companies.

Trump, in a late-night tweet, vowed to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) if it doesn’t include a repeal of Section 230, a provision that shields tech companies from liability for third-party content posted on their platforms.

But several top GOP senators are warning that the defense bill isn’t the right arena for Trump to dig in on the tech battle, which has emerged as a top target for the president and conservative allies.


“230 has nothing to do with the military," said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — White House raises new alarm over Russia Biden sparks confusion, cleanup on Russia-Ukraine remarks Republicans say Mayorkas failed to deliver report on evacuated Afghans MORE (R-Okla.). "I agree with his sentiments ... but you can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill."

Inhofe confirmed that language repealing Section 230 will not be in the final defense bill. He said he conveyed that to the president and hopes — but doesn't know if — Trump will sign it.

"Well, we just had an honest disagreement, very friendly," Inhofe said.

Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsBudowsky: President Biden leads NATO against Russian aggression Small ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (R-S.D.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, said he thought Trump was trying to express his frustration related to Section 230.

"I would hope that he would not actually follow through with that because the NDAA is critical," he said about the veto threat.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThere is a bipartisan path forward on election and voter protections Juan Williams: It's Trump vs. McConnell for the GOP's future Biden's year two won't be about bipartisanship  MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said that there was broad interest in reforming Section 230, but pointed to the Commerce Committee as the best area to take that up. He said he hoped the defense bill would be passed and signed into law without "a lot of drama.”

"I don't think the defense bill is the place to litigate that," Thune said. "There will be enormous support for getting the defense authorization bill passed and hopefully signed into law."

Asked if he was saying he did not think Section 230 should be a part of the NDAA, Thune added: "There's a normal legislative path for dealing with Section 230 ... that would be my preference."

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPut partisan politics aside — The Child Tax Credit must be renewed immediately These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (R-Fla.), the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, added that he was supportive of “doing something about” Section 230 but questioned if the NDAA was the place to push the issue.

“I don't know if vetoing would be the right approach because of the damage it would inflict,” he said. "I'm just not convinced that NDAA would be the right place to make that stand."

Trump threatened to veto the NDAA on Tuesday night if a repeal of Section 230 wasn’t included.

“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to 'Big Tech' (the only companies in America that have it - corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,” Trump tweeted.

“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!” Trump added.

The White House previously floated that it could drop its objection to separate language renaming Confederate-named bases if a repeal of Section 230 was included. But House Democrats panned the offer and Inhofe indicated on Wednesday that the language is staying in place.

Instead, Reps. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithHillicon Valley — Shutterfly gets hacked Biden signs 8 billion defense bill Overnight Defense & National Security — Democrats spar over military justice reform MORE (D-Wash.) and Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Major Russia weapons test stokes tensions Unnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world MORE (R-Texas), the chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, respectively, said in a joint statement that the “time has come” to put aside “policy objectives and partisan preferences” and pass the NDAA.

Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerHouse Republicans bash Democrats' China competition bill Romney participating in fundraiser for Liz Cheney Cheney hits Gingrich for saying Jan. 6 panel members may be jailed MORE (R-Ill.), meanwhile, vowed on Wednesday that he would vote to override Trump's veto, if he issues one, "because it’s really not about" the president.


Though there’s broader interest in reforming or repealing Section 230, Trump and his allies have homed in on the issue as they’ve ramped up criticism against Facebook and Twitter.

Some GOP senators said on Wednesday that they would be supportive of Trump vetoing the defense bill.

"I'm quite alright with him not signing it because I think that 230 repeal ought to be in it,” said Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunBiden administration withdraws its vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses Former Sen. Donnelly confirmed as Vatican ambassador The Memo: Supreme Court, Sinema deliver twin blows to Biden MORE (R-Ind.).

Asked if he was supportive of Trump vetoing the NDAA, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamClyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes The names to know as Biden mulls Breyer's replacement Schumer vows to vote on Biden Supreme Court pick with 'all deliberate speed' MORE (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally, said that he was supportive of Trump “using all the leverage he can.”

— Updated at 3:15 p.m.