McConnell Calls on Trump Not to Veto Defense Bill, Prepares for Override Effort

December 22, 2020 Updated: December 22, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday morning called on President Donald Trump not to veto the defense spending bill, adding that he is prepared for the Senate to override.

“My intention was and is to ensure the Senate continues fulfilling our obligation to the men and women of our armed forces. I hope the president will not veto this bill,” McConnell said.

Should Trump wield his pen to veto the measure, the House might “choose to return after the holidays to set up a vote to consider the veto,” McConnell said.

“In the event that the president has vetoed the bill, and the House has voted to override the veto, the Senate would have the opportunity to process a veto override at that time,” he added at around 1:45 a.m. Tuesday. McConnell added on the floor: “The Democratic Leader and I have agreed to unanimous request as follows: the Senate will meet for pro forma sessions only until December 29th when we will return to session.”

During his administration, Trump has issued eight vetos, and none of them have been overridden by Congress. As The Hill noted, Senate leaders would face a number of procedural hurdles before reaching the final point on overriding Trump’s veto of the defense bill.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the GOP Senate whip, warned that it could take several days to go through the legislative process, suggesting that a final vote would be in early January.

“It will take more than one day if we have objections and I think we probably will. So the question is, if the House, if they override it, then … we’ll have to set it up, and it may take a few days to do that,” Thune said.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to veto the $732 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as the measure does not repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides a legal shield for social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook. The president has termed the lack of a repeal a national security issue.

“I will Veto the Defense Bill, which will make China very unhappy,” Trump wrote on Twitter a week ago. “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!”

The president has until Wednesday to veto the bill.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who voted against the bill, said he is willing to slow down the vote.

“I very much am opposed to the Afghan war, and I’ve told them I’ll come back to try to prevent them from easily overriding the president’s veto,” Paul told reporters on Monday.