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Donald Trump vetoes USD 740 billion annual US defence bill, calls it ‘gift to Russia and China’

Trump called the bill "a gift to China and Russia". He also objected to the language in the National Defence Authorisation Act which would constrain his ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, South Korea and Germany.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the legislation concerning the United States military’s $740bn annual budget, a defence policy bill that had broad bipartisan support in the Congress, thus opening up another confrontation with the legislative.

According to the reports, the US Senate had overwhelmingly passed a sweeping defence budget bill two weeks back with an overwhelming majority after President Donald Trump had threatened to block the legislation before leaving his office in January.

The $740.5 billion defence budget had earned Trump’s opposition after it did not abolish provisions under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, that granted social media firms liability protection for third-party content on their platforms. Donald Trump has called for lawmakers to include limits on social media companies after there were attempts made by these companies to influence the recently held Presidential elections in the US.

“Your failure to terminate the very dangerous national security risk of Section 230 will make our intelligence virtually impossible to conduct without everyone knowing what we are doing at every step,” Trump wrote.

Trump called the bill “a gift to China and Russia”. He also objected to the language in the National Defence Authorisation Act which would constrain his ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, South Korea and Germany.

China would be the biggest beneficiary of the defence bill: Donald Trump

The annual defence budget also had provisions that allowed 3 per cent pay raises for US troops and authorised billions of dollars in military programmes and construction. President Trump had also called for stripping out language that allows for the renaming of military bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood, in the honour of Confederate leaders. He had also claimed the biggest winner from the defence bill would be China.

The vetoing of the annual bill by President Trump has now forced members of Congress to return to Washington in between the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holidays in order to re-pass it.

Earlier, the Republican-led Senate voted 84 to 13 to pass the bill. The Democrat-controlled House had passed the bill by a vote of 335 to 78 on December 8 – both margins greater than the two-thirds needed to override the presidential veto. 

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