WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to veto this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, objecting to plans to strip Confederate names from military bases, limit spending on Afghanistan and other provisions he sees as curbing his authority.
The sweeping $740 billion NDAA sets policy for the Department of Defense. It has passed for 59 straight years, one of the few major pieces of legislation seen as “must-pass” because it governs everything from pay raises for the troops to how many aircraft should be purchased or how best to compete with rivals like Russia and China.
The Republican-led Senate and Democratic-led House of Representatives are debating amendments to the NDAA this week. The two chambers will each pass a version of the bill and then come up with a compromise version, which – if it passes – would be sent to Trump to sign or veto later this year.
A spokesman for the Pentagon said he expected Congress and the White House would work out their differences. “They understand the importance of the NDAA, and we’re confident… the NDAA will be signed and implemented on time so that we can have a budget for our forces,” he said.
Trump had already vowed to veto the NDAA over a provision requiring the military to rename bases named for Confederate military leaders, who fought against U.S. forces during the Civil War.
The names of those bases, and statues honoring men who owned slaves or fought on the pro-slavery side, have been targeted in anti-racism protests across the United States – and the world – since George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis in May.
The Senate on Tuesday defeated an NDAA amendment that would have blocked the Pentagon from transferring to local police military-grade equipment that has been used against demonstrators.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Lisa Lambert, David Brunnstrom and Patricia Zengerle; additional reporting by Idrees Ali; Writing by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)