MORGANTOWN — West Virginia’s two U.S. Senators are concerned about President Trump’s likely veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, and having sufficient GOP support to override the veto before Jan. 3, when the next Congress starts.
“A Presidential veto of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act threatens the important policy priorities secured by Democrats to improve support for military personnel and take action on critical matters of national security,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said this week in a release. “It is essential that Congress override any veto and preserve the gains made by the FY21 NDAA.”
The office of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., told The Dominion Post in an email, “Senator Capito is in full support of the NDAA and does not believe the president should veto this legislation.”
Trump crammed the four reasons he wants to veto the legislation into a mash-up-style Thursday tweet that prompted Manchin’s office calling attention to the issue: “I will Veto the Defense Bill, which will make China very unhappy. 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!”
Before we explain all that, here’s is Capito’s emailed comment on the tweet: “The threats facing our homeland are real and constantly evolving. It is Congress’ responsibility to ensure that our military is equipped to combat those changing threats, and the NDAA does just this. Section 230 is not a military issue and the NDAA is not the place to have this debate.”
The FY21 NDAA, Manchin’s ooffice said, authorizes $731.6 billion, including $635.5 billion for the Department of Defense, $26.6 billion for Department of Energy national security programs, $69 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, and $494 million for defense-related activities.
This report draws from a variety of media reports on the problem Roll Call summarized it most fairly and concisely. The House OK’d its version Dec. 8, 335-78, with 140 of 180 Republicans voting yes. On Dec 11, the Senate approved it 84-13, with 43 of 50 Republicans voting yes. Trump has until Dec. 23 to veto the joint conference report.
Breaking down his tweet,:
— The NDAA contains a requirement to rename military bases that honor Confederates. \
— The NDAA does not contain a repeal of an entirely unrelated law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (more on that shortly).
— Trump believes it’s soft on China.
— He believes it would require the Pentagon to certify that his planned troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Germany are in America’s interest; without that, he thinks, the movements would not be possible.
CDA Section 230 says: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
Trump started taking issue, reports say, after Twitter started putting fact-check notices on his election fraud claims.
Section 230 protects platforms such YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MeWe and Parler (two venues some conservatives are moving to) that host third-party material from being held criminally liable for what the users post. It’s intended to foster free speech and prevent the host platforms from having to read every post.
Trump and other conservatives, though, have complained about one-sided fact checking and admitted censorship by some platforms that shows left-leaning bias.
In a different, two-part tweet, Trump complained, “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.
“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!”
While NDAA passed both houses by what’s considered veto-proof majorities (veto overrides requires a two-thirds vote of each, some prominent Republicans form both houses have indicated they won’t vote to override. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has introduced a bill to sunset Section 230 by Jan. 1, 2023.
The bill includes provisions from Manchin and Capito. From Manchin:
— A Defense Department study of the military applications of domestic supplies of synthetic graphite, which supports the work of companies like Amsted Industries in West Virginia.
— A study of rare earth elements from coal sludge, consistent with the ongoing research at WVU.
— A study of coal carbon fibers. “This could bring jobs and investment to West Virginia, which is uniquely positioned to support the development of these materials.”
—n To provide place-of-performance contract flexibility that enables the Navy to expand its employee base beyond the immediate Capital Region to areas like Rocket Center.
— Special operations forces training on restored surface mine sites.
— Prohibits divestment of RC-26B manned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft that are based in Martinsburg.
— Supports military mothers by ensuring women serving in the National Guard and Reserves can take maternity leave without worry about how it will affect their compensation and credits towards their retirement,
— Ensures minimum number of 287 C-130 aircraft, which is critical for military readiness and the West Virginia National Guard.
— Includes rare earth elements eport language to ensure the United States is not dependent on foreign adversaries like China for REEs that are necessary for technological capabilities.
Manchin said, “The FY21 NDAA is a bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation that includes vital funding for our troops to defend America and provides support to West Virginia’s brave service members as well as thousands of West Virginians who work to provide our troops with the equipment and support they need. While the NDAA isn’t perfect, this legislation is a worthwhile investment in our service members and ensures our military is prepared to face the threats to America from at home and abroad.”
Capito said, “This broad, bipartisan bill focuses on implementing the National Defense Strategy to confront challenges from Russia, China, Iran, as well as protect against international terrorism and other threats. By ensuring technological advantages, securing supply chains, making key investments in modernized warfare, and prioritizing accountability and streamlining operations at the Pentagon, we are able to retain our military superiority. But most importantly, this bill takes care of our troops and their families not only by authorizing a well-deserved pay raise, but also by improving the lives of military families with flexible childcare, education, and housing.”
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