WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has until Dec. 23 to decide whether to veto the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act or allow the annual measure setting policy for the Department of Defense to become law, a House of Representatives aide said on Monday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed the NDAA and sent it to the White House on Friday, starting the 10-day clock – minus Sundays – for the president to decide whether to issue a veto.
The NDAA passed both the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-majority House last week with more than the two-thirds majorities needed for a veto override, setting up a confrontation with Trump in the last weeks of his presidency.
Trump opposes the NDAA because it would strip the names of Confederate generals from military bases and because it does not repeal liability protections – unrelated to defense – for social media companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, that Trump considers unfriendly to conservatives.
A veto fight would come in the last days of the current Congress, when lawmakers are working on legislation to fund the government and avoid a shutdown and provide relief for Americans struggling with the effects of the coronavirus.
Trump has issued eight vetoes, but has had enough support from his fellow Republicans that none has been overridden. The NDAA could be an exception, as some of Trump’s closest allies have said they will defy him in order to support the Pentagon and protect the troops’ pay and benefits.
The White House did not respond on Monday to a request for comment. Trump reiterated his threat to veto the NDAA via Twitter on Sunday as he went to play golf.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Dan Grebler)