Senate sends veto-proof defense bill to Trump — but time may be on his side

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The Senate on Friday voted overwhelmingly to send a $740 billion defense bill to President Trump’s desk despite his vow to veto it.

Trump wanted the bill to repeal protections for social media companies, and he opposes measures to slow an Afghanistan troop drawdown and to rename 10 military bases that honor Confederates.

Senators voted a veto-proof 84-13 for the bill after the House also overwhelmingly passed it 335-78 on Tuesday.

Although it passed by veto-proof margins in both houses, the clock is running out on the legislative session, meaning Congress may not have time to override Trump’s veto.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul stalled the bill by one day when he objected to wording to hamstring Trump’s plan to reduce US troops in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by Jan. 15.

“We delayed it as many days as we could,” a member of Paul’s staff told The Post.

“The goal all along here has been to delay the bill as long as possible so it makes it harder to override the veto, which POTUS has said he would do if that provision remained.  So while we didn’t get the provision removed, we did succeed in delaying the bill and helping the chances of sustaining POTUS’ veto, as well as supporting his foreign policy goals of bringing our troops home.”

The bill won’t necessarily reach the White House immediately due to legislative formalities, and when it reaches Trump’s desk, he has 10 days to sign it.

Because of the Christmas and New Years holidays, lawmakers have very few days left to consider a veto override from Trump. The next session of Congress begins Jan, 3, meaning if the veto isn’t overridden by then, Congress must repass the bill.

Passage of the large defense bill cleared the way for consideration of a one-week government funding bill that must become law by midnight. Without that bill, there could be a temporary partial government shutdown as lawmakers seek to broker a COVID-19 relief package to address rising unemployment due to the pandemic.

Some Republicans said they voted for the defense bill despite disagreeing with some provisions

The legislation was a rare example of Republican leaders in both chambers joining hands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to defy Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) scoffed at the veto threat, telling reporters Tuesday, “We don’t know for sure whether the bill will be vetoed or not.”

Trump, however, repeatedly made his position clear on Twitter.

“I hope House Republicans will vote against the very weak National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which I will VETO. Must include a termination of Section 230 (for National Security purposes), preserve our National Monuments, & allow for 5G & troop reductions in foreign lands!” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

Only 40 House Republicans voted against the bill, as did 37 mostly left-wing Democrats and Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan. But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who supported passage, told colleagues he would oppose a veto override, improving the chances a veto would be sustained.

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