Republican U.S. lawmakers may defy Trump over defense bill veto threat

Patricia Zengerle
·2-min read

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and some other Republican lawmakers pushed back on Wednesday against President Donald Trump's threat to veto a massive defense bill unless it eliminates a federal law protecting tech companies.

"First of all 230 has nothing to do with the military. And I agree with his sentiments. We ought to do away with 230 but you can't do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill," Senator Jim Inhofe told reporters at the U.S. Senate.

Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday he would veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a $740 billion annual bill setting policy for the Pentagon, if it does not include a measure eliminating a federal law - known as Section 230 - protecting tech companies such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc.

The NDAA has been passed annually since 1961, a rare major bill seen as a "must-pass" because it governs everything from pay raises for the troops to how many aircraft should be purchased to how best to compete with Russia and China.

But with Congress in session only until the end of the year, lawmakers are running out of time to finalize the massive bill to avoid breaking the 59-year streak.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects tech companies from liability over content posted by users, and has been under attack from Trump and Republican lawmakers, who accuse internet platforms of stifling conservative voices.

Republican House of Representatives member Adam Kinzinger said on Twitter he would vote to override a Trump veto if it came to that.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was nonetheless serious about his veto threat. "The President has made clear the importance of 230," she told a white house briefing. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by David Gregorio)