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Dispute over defense budget: House of Representatives overrules Trump

At the end of his term in office, US President Trump takes on Congress. The House of Representatives has overruled its veto on the defense budget. Now it is the turn of the Senate – which could provide a premiere.

The US House of Representatives has overruled incumbent President Donald Trump’s veto of Defense Budget Law. In the vote in the Congress Chamber dominated by the Democrats, the necessary two-thirds majority came about. This only succeeded because many Republicans also opposed the president. A total of 322 MPs voted against his veto, while 87 MPs did not want to override the objection.

Troop withdrawal would be made more difficult

Trump had refused last Wednesday to sign the bill with a volume of 740.5 billion dollars (around 605 billion euros). To justify this, he stated in a letter to the House of Representatives that it contradicted his government’s foreign policy and national security.

Among other things, the draft stipulates that the massive withdrawal of US soldiers from Germany planned by Trump will be blocked for the time being. The US Secretary of Defense must first state in a report to Congress whether such a withdrawal would be in the national interest of the US. At the earliest 120 days later, the number of US soldiers stationed in the Federal Republic may fall below the limit of 34,500.

The president is also bothered by the renaming of military bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood. The bases are reminiscent of officers of the Confederate Army who fought against the northern states in the American Civil War (1861 – 1865) in the southern states and, above all, opposed the abolition of slavery.

Cross-party support

The defense budget was passed with bipartisan support for 59 consecutive years. Among other things, the Pentagon policy and decisions about troop strengths, new weapon systems, personnel policy and other military goals are based on the budget law. Because the failure of the military budget to come about is politically unthinkable, the package, as usual, also deals with numerous regulations that actually have nothing to do with the financing of the armed forces.

MPs from both parties had campaigned in the chamber before the vote on Monday to continue supporting the bill despite Trump’s objections. “It’s exactly the same bill, not a comma was changed,” said Republican Mac Thornberry. Defense Committee Democratic Chairman Adam Smith went on to say that the House of Representatives had prioritized compromise and sound politics over “blind political loyalty”. Despite the president’s “dangerous attempts at sabotage”, the defense budget will come into effect, said House spokeswoman, Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

Vote in the Senate is still pending

Should the US Senate, in which the Republicans have a majority, also vote against Trump’s line in a next step, this would mean that Congress would overturn a presidential veto for the first time in his term of office. Just this month, the Senate approved the defense budget with 84 to 13 votes – that is, with a majority that would be more than large enough to overturn a presidential objection.

However, the vote in the Senate could be delayed until the end of the week due to the dispute over direct aid in the corona pandemic. Senator Bernie Sanders announced on Twitter that he would block the vote until the Senate votes on raising payments to citizens from $ 600 to $ 2,000 per capita. The US House of Representatives voted on Monday for a corresponding move – many Republicans are against a more generous Corona stimulus package.

During his tenure, Trump already vetoes against eight other laws, but all of them stood because there was not the two-thirds majority in both chambers of parliament to allow them to come into force without his signature.


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