Senate Republicans overwhelmingly parted ways with Donald Trump, pushing back the outgoing President’s attempt to veto this year’s $ 740 billion defense spending bill and adding to the growing acrimony ahead of next week’s Congress meeting to confirm the election result.
On Friday, the motion to overturn Mr. Trump’s presidential veto passed 81 to 13 with strong bipartisan support, easily exceeding the required two-thirds majority and marking the first such defeat of Mr. Trump’s presidency.
The House of Representatives already voted to quash the veto Monday, making Friday’s Senate vote the last hurdle for the bill to become law.
Mr Trump has fought unsuccessfully his own party in recent days against broad Republican support for defense legislation, his party’s refusal to approve higher direct stimulus controls and lukewarm support for Mr. Trump of electoral fraud as his refusal to concede presidential election.
The president had vetoed the annual National Defense Authorization Act over his demands to remove legal protections from social media companies – contained in another law – and to remove a provision to remove names Confederate generals from US Army bases. This week he blamed “Weak and tired Republican leadership” for letting the bill pass.
After Friday afternoon’s vote, Trump called the Republican-controlled Senate “pathetic” in a tweet accusing senators of maintaining the “unlimited power” of big tech companies.
Still, his veto effort found unlikely support from some progressive Democrats who had sought to pass the Defense Bill, which includes all Army payroll and is seen as legislation. annual essential, conditional on the holding of a vote to allocate $ 2,000 direct stimulus checks which Mr. Trump also supported.
Bernie Sanders, a leading progressive senator who fought for higher direct stimulus controls, was among the clutch of senators who voted against rescinding Mr Trump’s veto on Friday. Others included Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker.
But moderate Democrats have indeed sided with the Republican leadership. Among Republican opponents of the bill were Trump loyalists, including Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley.
“This vote was undoubtedly a bipartisan reprimand from President Trump,” said Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a statement after the vote, adding that Mr. Trump had “seriously miscalculated »His opposition to the provision to rename the bases. named after historic Confederate leaders, some of whom owned slaves and are viewed by many servicemen as traitors.
“Racism has no place in the ranks,” the Rhode Island senator added, saying the provision had won strong bipartisan support as well as support from senior civilian advisers to Mr. Trump and the military.
Mr. Reed’s Republican counterpart Jim Inhofe, the Oklahoma senator who chairs the same committee, said he was happy the Senate voted for the bill by a wide bipartisan margin. “Today, the Senate sent a strong message of support to our troops,” he said in a statement.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate who has distanced himself from key Trump positions in recent days, previously praised the bill and urged senators to pass the bill, calling it “Serious responsibility”.
“This is our chance to make sure we keep pace with competitors like Russia and China,” he said, citing efforts to invest in the military to ensure it is ” equipped to surpass any adversary ”.
Mr Trump’s influence over his party appears to be waning ahead of an official congressional session scheduled for Wednesday to confirm the November election results, which Mr Trump has yet to concede despite his defeat. Some members of Congress are siding with Mr. Trump, but they are unlikely to be able to reverse the result.
The political fate of the Senate is still at stake before Tuesday’s second round vote for two seats in Georgia, however. The results will determine whether Democrats can wrest Senate control from Republicans, which may only be if they win both seats. Mr. Trump is due to travel to Georgia on Monday for a final election campaign.