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Jumat, 01 Januari 2021

Republican-led US Senate defies Donald Trump for first time in four years, overrides defence bill veto - ABC News

Donald Trump's fellow Republicans in the United States Senate overrode his veto for the first time in his nearly four years in office, pushing through a bill on defence spending against his strong objections, 20 days before his term ends.

Meeting in a rare New Year's Day session, the Senate secured the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto with bipartisan support two days before a new US Congress will be sworn in. Eight previous vetoes have been upheld.

Republican politicians in Washington have largely stood by the president during his turbulent White House term.

Since losing his re-election bid in November, however, Mr Trump has lashed out at them for not fully backing his unsupported claims of voting fraud, rejecting his demand for bigger COVID-19 relief checks and for moving toward the veto override.

The Republican-led Senate, following the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on Monday, passed the measure without his support, voting 81-13.

A US president has the power to veto a bill passed by Congress, but politicians can uphold the bill if two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and Senate vote to override it.

President Donald Trump in a suit outside with greenery behind him
US President Donald Trump had earlier called Republican leadership "weak and tired" for pushing for the defence bill to pass.(AP: Patrick Semansky, file)

The $US740 billion ($964 billion) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) determines everything from how many ships are bought to soldiers' pay and how to address geopolitical threats, but Mr Trump refused to sign it into law because it did not repeal certain legal protections for social media platforms and did include a provision stripping the names of Confederate generals from military bases.

Many programs, including military construction, can only go into effect if the bill is approved.

"We've passed this legislation 59 years in a row. And one way or another, we're going to complete the 60th annual NDAA and pass it into law before this Congress concludes on Sunday," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said before the vote.

The Senate override was delayed after Senator Bernie Sanders objected to moving ahead until Mr McConnell allowed a vote on a Trump-backed plan to increase COVID-19 relief payments to $US2,000.

Mr McConnell did not allow that vote; instead he used his parliamentary power to set a vote limiting debate on the defence measure, overcoming a filibuster threat by Senator Sanders and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

'Strong message to our troops'

Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a close ally of Mr Trump, hailed the override vote.

"Today, the Senate sent a strong message of support to our troops,'' Senator Inhofe said.

"Not only does this bill give our service members and their families the resources they need, but it also makes our nation more secure — pushing back against China and Russia [and] strengthening our cyber defences.''

Trump's waning power in Congress

Mr Trump has succeeded throughout his four-year term in enforcing party discipline in Congress, with few Republicans willing to publicly oppose him.

The bipartisan support on the defence bill showed the limits of Mr Trump’s influence in the final weeks of his term.

Earlier this week, 130 House Republicans voted against the Trump-backed COVID relief checks, with many arguing they were unnecessary and would increase the federal budget deficit.

The Democratic-controlled House approved the larger payments, but the plan is all but dead in the Senate, another sign of Mr Trump’s fading hold over Congress.

President touts protest rally

Mr Trump has ramped up pressure on fellow Republicans and slammed party leadership for failing to do his bidding on the two measures and for not more fully joining his fight to overturn the election results.

As votes were being counted indicating Mr Trump had lost the battle over the bill, the president took to Twitter to tout a protest rally being planned in Washington on Wednesday, the day the new Congress officially tallies the Electoral College votes certifying Democrat Joe Biden's presidential victory.

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Some allies of Mr Trump in Congress have said they plan to object on Mr Trump's behalf.

Earlier, Mr Trump had lashed out at Republican politicians lawmakers on Twitter, charging earlier this week that "Weak and tired Republican 'leadership' will allow the bad Defense Bill to pass."

He called the looming override vote a "disgraceful act of cowardice and total submission by weak people to Big Tech. Negotiate a better Bill, or get better leaders, NOW!"

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2021-01-01 20:39:00Z
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