Lawmakers push back as Trump threatens to veto defense bill

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — President Donald Trump has vowed to veto this year’s $740 billion defense bill unless it is stripped of a section that provides legal protections for social media companies.

“The president is serious about it,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a Wednesday afternoon briefing. “They claim to be the public square, but in the case of Twitter, Twitter has become a publisher, choosing to fact-check certain content.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said he supports the president’s effort, saying Congress is taking too long to pass stricter regulations on social media companies.

“They’re out there stealing from us, when they’re out there censoring us,” Hawley said. “This is an opportunity to get it done and I support him on that. Why should these big tech companies be getting these huge government giveaways?”

But Democrats and some Republicans are pushing back, arguing Trump’s last-minute request has nothing to do with military spending.

“It’s silly season at the White House,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor.

He said the threat to derail pay increases for troops and defense programs is playing politics with people’s lives.

“The president seems intent on filling each of his remaining days in office with petulance, grievance, self-interest,” he said.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a veteran, said he would vote to override the president’s threatened veto, telling Trump in a tweet, “It’s really not about you.”

The defense bill is still being finalized, but both the House and Senate versions passed with veto-proof majorities and Republicans and Democrats tasked with negotiating the final text said Wednesday they have reached a deal.

This is the second time Trump has threatened to video this year’s defense bill. For months, he said he would strike it down if it includes a bipartisan provision to rename military bases currently named after Confederal leaders. McEnany would not comment Wednesday on whether that threat stands.

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