Trump And Congress To Face Off Next Week Over Defense Policy Bill

By Susan Ferrechio December 06, 2020 | Image Source: Washington Examiner

President Trump faces the only likely veto override of his presidency next week when the House and Senate are poised to pass a defense policy bill without language that would punish social media giants.

Trump wants the National Defense Authorization Act to include a provision stripping lawsuit liability protection from websites and social media platforms that has existed since 1996.

The social media liability shield, know as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, is under the scrutiny of Congress and particularly Republicans, who believe conservative content is unfairly moderated on the sites.

Trump called the lawsuit protections “a liability shielding gift” to Big Tech and said, “I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill” if his provision isn’t included.

But senators and House lawmakers in both parties say the provision doesn’t belong in a defense bill, and House Democrats, who control the chamber, said they’ll block the measure if it includes the lawsuit language.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, announced Friday the defense bill will come up for vote next week and will have enough support to prevent Trump from blocking the bill.

“I am very pleased that we have a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on NDA and look forward to overwhelmingly passing both chambers next week, and if necessary, overriding a threatened veto by President Trump,” Hoyer said.

In the Senate, Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, said the chamber will consider the bill before finishing the session, and he believes it will have at least the support of two-thirds of the Senate, which is enough to override a veto.

But there’s a small chance the bill may ultimately have to wait until 2021 if Trump decides to ignore it and Congress adjourns for the year.

In that instance, Trump could attempt a “pocket veto,” which is permitted under the Constitution when Congress adjourns at the end of a session.

Congress cannot vote to override a pocket veto.

House lawmakers plan to leave town next week, but at least one chamber of Congress is likely to hold pro forma sessions until it reconvenes the first week of January, avoiding a period of true adjournment.

The courts have ruled that Congress must adjourn formally, or “sine die,” for the session in order for a president to utilize a pocket veto.

Up until the 1990s, the pocket veto was used routinely by presidents, but Congress in recent years has tended to hold pro forma sessions rather than adjourning.

If Trump chooses to veto the bill by next week, Congress may have time to vote to override it before leaving town for the year. The bill would then become law.

Trump signaled he is not backing down on his threat to block the measure, which sets defense spending and policy for the coming year and is critical for military planning.

Trump believes social media giants Twitter and Facebook have unfairly worked to block or censor him while shielding Democrats and President-elect Joe Biden from critical coverage.

Many Republicans agree with the president that social media treats them unfairly, but lawmakers want the lawsuit shield reworked or eliminated in separate legislation, not a critical defense bill.

Trump, during his presidency, has successfully vetoed six bills without an override by Congress.

The defense bill could break Trump’s winning streak.

“I agree with his sentiments,” Inhofe told reporters in the Capitol. “We ought to do away with [Section] 230. But you can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill.”

Author: Susan Ferrechio

Source: Washington Examiner: Trump and Congress to face off next week over defense policy bill