International Security

In new blow to Trump, US house approves defense bill

Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives sent an unequivocal message to President Donald Trump on Tuesday when they overwhelmingly passed a defense spending bill that the commander-in-chief has threatened to veto.

The 335-78 vote approving the gargantuan $731 billion bill ensures that the House has enough votes to override a potential veto. It is unclear if the Senate will also have a veto-proof majority when it is sent to the chamber.

Trump has vowed to veto the bill because it contains certain provisions he has voiced disapproval of while lacking others he has demanded. But a large chunk of his Republican partisans bucked his threats in voting for the bill.

Trump has lambasted a requirement that the Defense Department rename military installations that bear the name of Confederate generals. The confederacy was a separatist movement that fought against the US in the mid-1800s to maintain the right to own Black people as slaves.

The bases, as well as monuments honoring Confederates, became a flashpoint of public protests following the police-involved killings of Black men, including George Floyd in May.

Trump has also threatened a veto if the bill does not include a provision repealing a statute known as Section 230 that shields social media companies from legal action over content posted by their users.

Trump and his Republican allies have sought to focus on Section 230 in their criticism of what they say are efforts by social media companies to censor conservative viewpoints.

In May, Trump issued an executive order calling for new regulations to be imposed on the legal protections, which are part of a largely defunct 1996 law that has been used to protect internet companies from lawsuits.

Section 230 is one of the few remaining parts of the Communications Decency Act, which was largely struck down by the Supreme Court over free speech concerns.

If the Senate follows the House in approving the defense bill by a large margin, it is unclear if Trump will issue a veto when the bill hits his desk. Doing so would risk an embarrassing milestone in the twilight hours of his presidency.

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