Pelosi and McConnell Plan to Test Trump Veto on Defense Bill (2)

(Updates throughout to reflect deal reached on the legislation.)

Congressional leaders will defy President Donald Trump’s veto threat by advancing a defense authorization bill that will require renaming bases honoring Confederate generals while rebuffing calls to abolish a liability shield for tech companies.

House Armed Services Committee leaders Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) announced the House and Senate reached a deal on the legislation Wednesday.

Trump on Tuesday night threatened to veto the annual U.S. defense bill unless Congress abolishes a law that protects technology companies from liability over most user content. Lawmakers resisted inclusion of such a massive change to an unrelated issue in the defense bill.

Trump had also previously threatened to veto the must-pass legislation over provisions that would require renaming military bases with names tied to the Confederacy. The final bill will include a Confederate base name provision, Senate Armed Service Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) both confirmed. Warren is the author of the Senate provision that would establish a commission to determine the changes within three years.

Passing the final defense policy bill would be futile unless the two chambers can muster enough votes to override Trump’s threatened veto. The House and Senate passed their defense bills (H.R. 6395, S. 4049) with veto-proof majorities earlier this year. The defense bill is a massive, crucial piece of legislation that authorizes, among many things, military pay raises and extra pay for troops on dangerous assignments. It has been enacted annually for the past 59 years.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Leaders of both parties rebuffed Trump’s demands on the tech liability shield.

“First of all, 230 has nothing to do with the military,” Inhofe told reporters at the Capitol today. “I agree with his sentiments, we ought to do away with 230. But you can’t do it in this bill.”

“You’re mad at Twitter. We all know it,” Smith tweeted. “You’re willing to veto the defense bill over something that has everything to do with your ego, and nothing to do with defense.”

The House committee’s top Republican said the bill shouldn’t include extraneous issues.

“The purpose of the bill has always been to support our troops and to protect American national security. Disagreements on all other issues have been put aside. This year should be no different,” Thornberry said in a statement.

The liability shield “has zero chance of passing in this manner. This is a losing battle, plain and simple,” Mackenzie Eaglen, a national security expert with the American Enterprise Institute, said in a statement

With assistance from Nancy Ognanovich, Todd Shields, and Laura Litvan

To contact the reporter on this story: Roxana Tiron in Washington at rtiron@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Babbage at sbabbage@bgov.com; Heather Rothman at hrothman@bgov.com

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