Bah, Humbug: Trump Vetoes All Covid-19 Relief.

File photo. The United States Department of Defense is headquartered at The Pentagon.
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WASHINGTON—President Trump vetoed a $740.5 billion defense-policy bill and demanded last-minute changes to coronavirus-relief legislation, adding fresh uncertainty to the closing days of 2020 as a government shutdown loomed.

In a Wednesday afternoon statement on the defense measure released by the White House, Mr. Trump objected to some of the provisions related to the removal of Confederate base names and troop levels abroad, as well as the legislation’s lack of language revoking internet platforms’ broad immunity for the content they publish from users on their sites.

The president had called on lawmakers to terminate Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Mr. Trump has targeted that section of the law, arguing that social-media giants like Facebook and Twitter use it to suppress conservative voices on their platforms.

The annual defense bill sets pay rates for troops and authorizes funds for military construction projects, aircraft, ships, nuclear weapons and other national-security programs. It also includes items related to anti-money-laundering efforts, cybersecurity and the U.S. border wall.

This year, the House approved final passage 335-78 and the Senate passed it 84-13.
To make the bill law over the president’s objections requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber. The House is scheduled to hold its override vote on Monday, Dec. 28, with the Senate to follow Tuesday.

“The NDAA has become law every year for 59 years straight because it’s absolutely vital to our national security and our troops. This year must not be an exception,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R., Okla.), who lobbied Mr. Trump against vetoing the measure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) called the veto an “act of staggering recklessness that harms our troops, endangers our security and undermines the will of the bipartisan Congress.”Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan all vetoed an NDAA, according to the Senate Historical Office. In each of those cases, they eventually signed modified versions of the bills.

Mr. Trump has issued eight previous vetoes, none of which was overridden.

Meanwhile, Washington is grappling with a second crisis related to a massive coronavirus-relief package that also funds the government. Mr. Trump, called on lawmakers to increase direct payments to Americans to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples, from $600 per adult and per child, the current level in the bill.

His unexpected broadside against the bill unleashed another standoff between the White House and Capitol Hill, where Senate Republicans have angered Mr. Trump by acknowledging Democrat Joe Biden as the president-elect.

Mr. Trump’s sudden turn on the coronavirus-relief package surprised lawmakers, many of whom had already left Washington after Congress overwhelmingly approved the relief bill in a 92-6 vote in the Senate and 359-53 in the House.

The 5,593-page year-end package combines the coronavirus relief and a $1.4 trillion spending bill needed to fund the government through September. Much of Mr. Trump’s criticism appeared aimed at the spending portion, which includes routine funding for foreign allies and international programs.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) told House Republicans on a call Wednesday that he had spoken to Mr. Trump and that the president was still deciding whether to veto the package, according to people familiar with the call.

Some GOP lawmakers said Mr. Trump might be taking the coronavirus-relief bill hostage to get Congress to agree to repeal Section 230, adding that the combustible mix of issues could get resolved early next week.

“I hope Speaker Pelosi will agree with President Trump that Big Tech needs to be reined in by winding down Section 230 liability protections,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said on Twitter late Tuesday. “I have reason to believe this combination will lead to President Trump supporting the NDAA and COVID19 omnibus bills.”

But other GOP lawmakers and aides said that they didn’t discern a specific strategy in Mr. Trump’s decisions this week, and that it wasn’t clear to them how this would get resolved.

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