Posted by 23 December 2020
Following through with this threat, President Trump today vetoed the Defense Authorization Act, setting up a veto showdown with Congress.
The Defense Authorization Act is legislation that must be passed every year to authorize military activities and set defense policies. Earlier this month the president said he would veto this legislation unless it contained a repeal of a federal law that provides some liability protection for social media platforms, known as Section 230. President Trump and some Republicans have accused social media platforms and Google of liberal bias in moderating content. Democrats, on the other hand, say that these companies have not gone far enough to remove false or hateful speech. Congress has held hearings with officials from these companies where both Democratic and Republican members have criticized them for how they operate their businesses.
Repealing Section 230 would make it easier to sue social media companies for their moderating activities. President Trump has grown increasingly angry over what he perceives as unfair treatment from the platforms, and has made repeal a high priority. While there is bipartisan support for some sort of Section 230 reform in Congress, there is no agreement on what form that should take. Critics of repeal argue that easing civil suits would have a negative effect on free speech.
In his veto message, President Trump also said that the bill "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. It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia."
Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) was quick to retort: "President Trump clearly hasn’t read the bill, nor does he understand what’s in it. There are several bipartisan provisions in here that get tougher on China than the Trump Administration has ever been."
Congress has recessed for Christmas, but has yet to adjourn for the year. Members can return next week in an attempt to override the president's veto. This takes a vote of 2/3 in both chambers. The Defense Authorization Act passed with larger margins than this, but some Republicans may be reluctant to directly confront the president on this.
Do you think that Congress should override the president's veto of defense legislation?