Federal

Congress Sends National Defense Authorization Act to President Trump

The Senate approved the William M. Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021 by an 84-13 margin and will send it to the White House for final approval.

House members approved the defense spending bill earlier this week in a 335-78 vote.

The legislation is named after retiring Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13), the current ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee whose seat will be filled by Republican Ronny Jackson in January.

President Trump has threatened to veto the bill over the lack of a provision to strike down Section 230 of the U.S. Telecommunications Code.

Section 230 shields online platforms from liability for censoring user content, especially of an obscene nature, such as profanity or pornography, but some politicians see its repeal as a way to hold major social media platforms accountable for the increased censorship of political speech.

Though it has yet to be seen if Trump will sign the legislation or send it back to lawmakers, the NDAA passed with enough votes in both chambers that Congress would be able to override a veto if members vote the same way a second time.

In the Senate, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) supported the NDAA while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) voted against it.

All Democrats in the Texas congressional delegation voted in favor of the bill, while seven House Republicans from Texas opposed it and two were absent for the vote.

Texas House members to oppose were Reps. Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19), Brian Babin (R-TX-36), Michael Cloud (R-TX-27), Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01), Lance Gooden (R-TX-05), Chip Roy (R-TX-21), and Randy Weber (R-TX-14).

Reps. John Carter (R-TX-31) and Ron Wright (R-TX-06) did not vote.

Some Republicans opposed the legislation highlighting the same objections about Section 230 as Trump, while others pointed to extraneous provisions in the over 4,500-page bill unrelated to defense and items such as the inclusion of things like the creation of a “chief diversity officer” in the Pentagon.

“This NDAA is yet another reminder of why the American people are so fed up with how things are done in Washington. Once again, the people’s representatives were handed a bill loaded up with problems and told to vote on it with no chance to amend it via regular order,” said Roy.

Cruz said that he supported some elements of the bill, but like Roy, opposed other parts.

“The NDAA should serve to strengthen our national security, and it is imperative that Congress respects and upholds this vital function. The men and women of our military deserve no less, and I remain committed to fighting each and every day for the men and women who steadfastly defend our nation,” said Cruz in a press release.

Thornberry, who this year’s bill is named after, stated, “This is not the exact bill that I would have written, but it is one I support wholeheartedly. It provides the resources our troops need to accomplish their mission, significantly increases support for military families—especially those with special needs, continues to reform the Pentagon to make it more agile and cost effective, and includes measures to meaningly deter Russia and China while maintaining America’s competitive edge. I encourage my colleagues to support it.”

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