Trump Splits Party Over Defense Bill

By Claire Hardwick

While President Trump is now a lame duck president, he is slowly losing his power grip over the Republican Party. And the one-term president has made it clear he won’t go down without a fight. 

As he still claims election fraud for the reason he lost to President-elect Joe Biden, his final days of the presidency delivered a sting to any president’s ego with an override to his veto of the NDAA bill. 109 Republican lawmakers split from the president in joining the House Democrats to override the veto, sending a clear message to the White House that Trump’s word is no longer gospel. Most notably to split was Representative Liz Cheney, the GOP Caucus Leader. Trump’s longtime ally in the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, conveniently missed the vote. 

The veto override passed 322-87, the necessary 2/3 of the chamber needed to head to the Senate. As the bill already passed in the Senate with no changes made with a vote of 84-13, it can be concluded the Senate Republicans did not have any problems or necessary changes to the piece of legislation. But President Trump is fixed on two parts of the bill that he wants changed: no more liability protection for big tech, and no changes to confederate named military bases. He also wants to bring more troops home from abroad, a sticking point for many war-hawk Republicans. 

As the Georgia election comes around the corner, the split between the party could cost the Republican’s their majority in the upper chamber. Trump knows this, and is playing his hand that he is the reason for many of the senators’ election victories. But Mitch McConnell, who has already acknowledge President-elect Biden as the winner of the November election, will be thinking solely about the upcoming election, and what the optics will do for his majority. 

In a series of tweets, Trump said today, “Weak and tired Republican “leadership” will allow the bad Defense Bill to pass. Say goodbye to VITAL Section 230 termination, your National Monuments, Forts (names!) and Treasures (inserted by Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren), 5G, and our great soldiers……..being removed and brought home from foreign lands who do NOTHING for us. A disgraceful act of cowardice and total submission by weak people to Big Tech. Negotiate a better Bill, or get better leaders, NOW! Senate should not approve NDAA until fixed!!!”

Why this matters: President Trump is consistently being targeted by social media companies for spreading misinformation. After the election, where Trump lost significantly, he has upped his rhetoric to a new level, and so have his followers. Removing liability protection from social media companies would allow Trump, his campaign, and his most loyal followers to sue Twitter and Facebook for what they say is censorship. When out of office, Trump will be hit with numerous lawsuits, and this attempt to change the Section 230 in the NDAA signals he may have a few people he wants to sue as well. 

Furthermore, a veto from members of his own party shows a significant split, and a step away from the President by the GOP. McConnell, who has six more years, will not care about Trump when he leaves office the end of January because he no longer needs him. In many ways, Trump is getting a taste of his own medicine as GOP lawmakers abandon ship and look towards the future.