Trump doubles down on defense bill veto, calls it a ‘gift to China, Russia & Big Tech’

President Trump on Saturday defended his veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, calling it a “travesty” and again claiming it is a “gift” to China, Russia and Big Tech companies.

Trump urged lawmakers, who may override his veto next week, to revamp the bipartisan bill.

“Our $740 [billion] defense bill is a gift to China, Russia & Big Tech,” he tweeted. “It fails to terminate the internationally dangerous Section 230, won’t allow us to bring our troops back home (where they belong), renames & destroys our forts & National Monuments, & makes 5G almost impossible!”

Trump vetoed the bill Wednesday. He then highlighted some of the issues mentioned in his tweet — including Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is unrelated to the defense legislation.

That section says tech companies cannot be held responsible for content published on their platforms. It has been a target of conservatives seeking to rein in the power of Big Tech companies and hold them accountable for what goes on on their platforms, and Trump has repeatedly called for it to be repealed or changed.

He also referred to provisions that would phase out facilities named after Confederate military figures. But he suggested in a second tweet that Section 230 was his main reason for vetoing the legislation.

“I will not stand by and watch this travesty of a bill happen without reigning [sic] in Big Tech. End Section 230 now, before it is too late. So bad for our Country,” he said. “Show courage, and do what’s right!”

Trump has faced pushback for his veto, from both Democrats and Republicans. Lawmakers have defended the bill and said it contains funding for vital national security measures and pay raises for troops.

They have also rejected the president’s claim that the defense bill helps Russia and China, saying that it in fact strengthens the U.S. against its geopolitical rivals.

The bill affirms 3 percent pay raises for U.S. troops and authorizes more than $740 billion in military programs and construction.

House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming said in a statement that the bill includes strong provisions to counter both Russia and China and that Congress “must ensure this bill becomes law.” 

“In addition to hurting our troops, failing to pass the NDAA will have dire consequences for our national security,” she said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the veto “an act of staggering recklessness that harms our troops, endangers our security and undermines the will of the bipartisan Congress.”

Congress can override the veto or attempt to modify the bill in a way that would pick up Trump’s signature. Both chambers are due to meet early next week.