On Sunday, President Trump repeated his threat to veto the $740 billion 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) after the massive spending bill was passed through both chambers of Congress.
The president wrote on Twitter: “THE BIGGEST WINNER OF OUR NEW DEFENSE BILL IS CHINA! I WILL VETO!”
It’s not clear what aspect of the NDAA Trump thinks is a gift to China. The 4,517-page bill includes multiple sections that call for evaluations of Beijing’s activities in Taiwan, Xinjiang, the cyber-realm, space, and other areas. Members of Congress were quick to point out how “tough” the bill is on China.
“President Trump clearly hasn’t read the bill, nor does he understand what’s in it,” Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) said in response to Trump’s tweet. “There are several bipartisan provisions in here that get tougher on China than the Trump Administration has ever been.”
Trump’s main gripe with the $740 billion legislation is that it does not include an amendment to repeal Section 230, a law that gives tech platforms immunity from liability over the content published by third party users.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) delayed a vote on the NDAA last week over an amendment that seeks to block troop drawdowns in Afghanistan. The amendment would require reports from the State Department, Pentagon, and DNI over the impact the withdrawals would have on US national security.
The assessment would be required as soon as the NDAA becomes law. Assessments would also be required when troop numbers go below 4,000, and again at 2,000. The Trump administration is currently carrying out a plan to bring numbers down to 2,500 by January 15th.
The NDAA also includes an amendment to block a planned troop drawdown from Germany. The Trump administration ordered the Pentagon to take about 12,000 troops out of Germany of the approximately 34,500 stationed there. The amendment would not allow troops to leave the country until 120 days after the Pentagon submitted a report to Congress on the drawdown.
President Trump has until December 23rd to decide on the bill. If he goes through with a veto, it would likely still become law since both the House and Senate passed the NDAA with well over the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.