President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the annual defense policy bill, following through on threats to veto a measure that has broad bipartisan support in Congress and potentially setting up the first override vote of his presidency.
Political pundits think Congress could override the president's veto with two-thirds majority votes in both the House and Senate due to the measure's previous vote totals in both chambers.
In a message to the House, the President wrote:
"My Administration recognizes the importance of the Act to our national security. Unfortunately, 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," he wrote. "It is a 'gift' to China and Russia."
Calls Out Lawmakers for Not Doing Enough to Help Americans
Earlier, Trump unleashed an attack on what he called the wasteful spending buried inside the COVID relief bill Tuesday night, criticizing lawmakers in a video for not doing enough to help Americans.
"Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists, and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it," he said.
"It's called the COVID relief bill but it has almost nothing to do with COVID," he said, citing millions in foreign aid for Cambodia, Burma, Egypt, Pakistan, and other countries.
The president also went after the bill's political pork at home which he said includes $40 million for the Kennedy Center and $150 million for the National Gallery of Art. The Kennedy Center disputed that characterization early Wednesday, saying the president requested the funds in his FY2021 budget submission to Congress in February.
Trump also emphasized that the bill's stimulus checks of $600 per person are not enough.
"I'm asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple," he said.
The president's announcement comes after months of congressional stalemate on COVID relief, followed by the bill's quick introduction Monday and overwhelming support in both houses, racing to get something done by Christmas.
The president's concerns come on the heels of outcry from six senators who voted against the bill. The $900 billion COVID relief bill was included with a broader, massive spending bill. Fiscal conservatives like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Americans can't afford the bill's $2.5 trillion price tag on top of the $27 trillion national debt.
President-elect Joe Biden applauded the bill on Tuesday afternoon although he acknowledged that more relief is needed, promising extra stimulus in 2021.
"We're gonna need to make sure that we're in a position that we can provide for the opportunity for people to begin to go back to work and get new jobs," he said.
The president did not specifically vow to veto the bill but because it's attached to a broader government funding measure the government will shut down on Dec. 29th without it.
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