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US lawmakers approve Pentagon budget by veto-proof majority

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Outgoing US President Donald Trump has a range of complaints about the proposed Pentagon budget./AFP
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Dec 09, 2020 - 10:03 AM

WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives approved the Pentagon budget bill Tuesday by an overwhelming majority, defying President Donald Trump’s threat to veto the measure.

The bill must now go to the Senate, where it is likely also to be approved, before it reaches the outgoing Republican leader.

The defense budget bill received 335 of 430 votes, far exceeding the two-thirds “super majority” needed to override a presidential veto.

Only 40 out of 196 Republicans voted against the bill. It remains to be seen whether all Republicans will maintain their stance to counter a possible Trump veto.

After months of bipartisan negotiations, the 2021 budget is set at $740.5 billion and includes a three percent increase in defense personnel salaries.

In July, separate versions of the bill won more than two-thirds support in both chambers. The date for the Republican-controlled Senate has not been set yet.

Trump emphasized his opposition to the bill earlier Tuesday.

“I hope House Republicans will vote against the very weak National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which I will VETO,” Trump, who leaves office January 20, tweeted using the formal name of the legislation.

Trump has several complaints about the bill.

It does not call, as he wants, for the abolition of a law known as Section 230, which grants social media firms protection from liability for third-party content carried on their platforms. Trump has railed against the law repeatedly and says giants like Facebook and Google are biased against him.

Trump is also displeased with the bill because it calls for renaming US military bases that honor Confederate heros from the pro-slavery South from the US Civil War.

The bill also goes against Trump’s drive to slash the US troop presence in Germany. It imposes on the Pentagon a deadline of at least 120 days before any reduction of forces in Germany, ensuring that no American withdrawal can take place before Democratic President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

The bill states that a military withdrawal from Germany “during a time of growing threats in Europe would constitute a grave strategic mistake that would undermine United States national security interests and weaken NATO.”

Trump mentioned all these issues in his tweet Tuesday, as well as the topic of “5G.”

The bill addresses the issue of sharing the electromagnetic spectrum with the development of 5G frequences.

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