House plans Dec. 28 vote to override Trump’s possible defense bill veto

The House is preparing to return for a rare session between Christmas and New Year’s to override President Trump’s threatened veto of a must-pass defense bill if necessary.

If Trump follows through on his threat to the veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the House would vote Dec. 28 on overriding him.

The House set the date Monday as part of a rule governing floor debate of a separate unrelated bill.

Trump has until Wednesday to veto the NDAA, which he has repeatedly threatened to do because it does not include a repeal of an unrelated tech law, also known as Section 230, among other reasons.

The bill passed both chambers of Congress earlier this month with more than the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.

But an override vote could scramble the math, as some Republicans who supported the bill initially have said they would not vote to override Trump. At the same time, some Democrats who voted against the bill have said they would vote to override a veto.

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) predicted the House could easily override Trump because many lawmakers in both parties are likely to opt not to return to Washington between Christmas and New Year’s and because Democrats are fine with voting by proxy while Republicans largely refuse to.

“That’s all to our advantage,” Larsen said.

The unusual post-Christmas session would be necessary to meet a deadline to override Trump by noon Jan. 3, when the 117th Congress starts. If Congress fails to override the veto by then, lawmakers would need to start from scratch on the bill, and it would be the first time in 60 years the bill does not become law.

The House, which has to vote on the override first because it initially passed the bill, would need to send the veto message to the Senate by Dec. 29 to overcome any procedural hurdles in the upper chamber and finish by Jan. 3, a Democratic House aide told The Hill.

Senators opposed to overriding Trump’s veto could drag out procedural hurdles by forcing a cloture vote, requiring the override effort to initially get 60 votes, according to the Congressional Research Service. To ultimately override the veto in the Senate will also require two-thirds support.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who briefly held up passage of the NDAA earlier this month, indicated Monday he could similarly delay an override vote.

“I very much am opposed to the Afghan war, and I’ve told them I’ll come back to try to prevent them from easily overriding the president’s veto,” Paul told reporters. 

The NDAA includes provisions aimed at putting up roadblocks to Trump’s orders to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Germany, an issue Trump has also raised in his veto threats.

Trump has also raised objections to the bill’s inclusion of a requirement to rename Confederate-named military bases.

Trump also recently added an unspecified gripe that the NDAA is weak on China, despite the fact that the bill would create a $2.2 billion fund specifically to counter China, among other provisions aimed directly at Beijing. Those provisions have been a major selling point for the bill among Republicans.

“I will Veto the Defense Bill, which will make China very unhappy,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “They love it. Must have Section 230 termination, protect our National Monuments and allow for removal of military from far away, and very unappreciative, lands. Thank you!”

Mike Lillis contributed.

Tags Donald Trump Rand Paul Rick Larsen

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