Trump defends veto of massive US defence spending bill

In series of Saturday morning tweets, US president repeats claim $740bn legislation is a ‘gift to Russia and China’.

US President Donald Trump objects to language in the bill that would impede his ability to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, South Korea and Germany, among other things [File: Brendan Smialowski/AFP]

President Donald Trump has defended his decision to veto legislation authorising the United States military’s $740bn annual budget, saying in a series of Saturday morning tweets that the bill is a “travesty”.

Trump vetoed the legislation, which has bipartisan support in the US Congress, including from senior members of the US president’s Republican Party, on Tuesday.

“Our $740 [sic] defense bill is a gift to China, Russia & Big Tech,” Trump tweeted on Saturday.

He has objected to language in the National Defense Authorization Act that would constrain his ability to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, South Korea and Germany, while also objecting to provisions that would rename military bases and monuments to US Confederate figures.

Trump also wants a section of US law – Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – that shields social media companies from liability for content posted on their platforms repealed.

“The Act fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions,” Trump said in a statement after his veto.

His position is a break from senior Republican leaders in Congress just weeks before he is set to leave office.

The Republican-led Senate supports the defence spending bill, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would call the Senate back to session on December 29 for a veto override vote.

Both the Senate and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, which is expected to hold its veto override vote on December 28, need two-thirds majorities to get past Trump’s veto.

The House voted 335 to 78 on December 8 in favour of the bill, while the legislation passed in the Senate by a vote of 84 in favour to 13 against.

Also on Saturday, Trump repeated his false claims that November’s US presidential election was stolen from him and criticised Republican leaders that he said were refusing to help him prevent that from happening.

He also said the US Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority and includes three Trump appointees, “has been totally incompetent and weak”.

Trump’s re-election campaign team has filed numerous failed lawsuits seeking to overturn the election results in key US states.

The nation’s top court earlier this month rejected a long-shot lawsuit challenging the vote tallies in Pennsylvania and three other states, effectively dealing Trump another blow in his failed efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.

Biden, who has named key nominees to his incoming administration, will be inaugurated on January 20.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies