The House of Representatives has voted to override Donald Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 322 to 87 votes—easily exceeding the required two-thirds vote. The measure now goes to the Senate, where it must also pass by a two-to-one margin to overcome Trump’s opposition.
Every year, Congress passes the NDAA to fund the military—this year’s bill provides $740 billion for the Pentagon. Thanks to broad public support for the military, the NDAA is widely seen as a “must pass” measure. This makes it a tempting vehicle for attaching unrelated proposals that might not otherwise win Congressional approval.
In recent months, Donald Trump has been calling for Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and other government agencies to modify or repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that shields websites from liability for content uploaded by their users. Trump sees repeal of Section 230 as a way to retaliate against Facebook and Twitter for their perceived bias against him. But so far, Trump’s campaign against Section 230 has not gotten traction.
So in a desperate move, Trump began threatening to veto the NDAA unless Congress adding language repealing Section 230. Congressional leaders didn’t take the threat very seriously, since Section 230 has nothing to do with national defense and repealing it would be a drastic step. But after Congress passed the NDAA without a Section 230 provision, Trump followed through on his threat.
Trump has vetoed a handful of other bills during his presidency. Until now Congress has never overridden his vetoes because Republicans had remained loyal to him. But Trump’s lame duck status means he now has rapidly declining clout with Republicans in Congress.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats overwhelmingly voted to override Trump’s vote, with 212 in favor and only 20 against. But more surprisingly, Republicans strongly supported the override too: 109 in favor and just 66 against.
That bodes well for the Senate’s chances of overriding Trump’s veto when it takes up the issue on Tuesday. If a majority of Senate Republicans and almost every Democrat votes to override Trump’s veto, the measure should pass easily.
The Senate previously passed the bill in an 84-13 vote. So if most of the bill’s previous supporters vote to override, the NDAA will become law despite Trump’s veto.