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Senate sends military bill to Trump’s office, rejecting veto threat

WASHINGTON – The Senate overwhelmingly passed a sweeping military policy bill on Friday that would require Confederate names to be removed from U.S. military bases, authorizing the enactment of the measure and sending it to President Trump’s office in disregard of his threats of veto.

The 84-13 vote to approve the legislation reflected broad bipartisan support for the measure that allows payment of US troops and was intended to signal Mr. Trump that lawmakers, including many Republicans, were determined to pass the bill critical even if it meant potentially issuing the first veto of his presidency.

The margin has exceeded the two-thirds majority needed in both houses to force the bill through over Mr. Trump’s objections. The House also reached that threshold by passing the measure on Tuesday, raising the prospect of a possible veto confrontation in Mr. Trump’s last few weeks in power.

The scene that unfolded in the Senate on Friday underscored how Republicans, who have hesitated to challenge the president on any other issue during his four years in office, have been extraordinarily willing to break with Mr. Trump on one. party keys. orthodoxies – projecting military force.

“I encourage all of us to do what we need to do to get this bill passed,” Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told his colleagues in a speech delivered by the prosecution. “There is no one more deserving in America than our troops out there in danger, and we’re going to make sure we do what it takes for them.”

Thirteen senators, split evenly across party lines, voted against the bill, with Republicans supporting Mr. Trump’s objections and Democrats resenting the top number in the bill. Three senators, Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota, and Kamala Harris, Democrat of California and vice president-elect, did not vote.

Congress has been successful in passing the military bill every year for 60 years. But Mr Trump has threatened to reverse that tradition, pledging since the summer to veto the legislation even as his own party leaders privately pleaded with him to back it.

Mr. Trump initially opposed a provision overwhelmingly backed by lawmakers from both parties in both houses that would remove the names of Confederate leaders from military bases. In recent weeks, his focus has shifted and he has demanded that the bill include an independent repeal of a legal shield for social media companies.

This demand, registered late in the legislative process, has found little support among lawmakers from either party, who view shoe shining as a major policy change unrelated to the defense as untenable. They hoped that strong votes in both houses would prompt Mr. Trump to back down from his veto threat. But the president has so far given no indication that he will.

The legislation includes a number of uncontroversial bipartisan measures, including new benefits for tens of thousands of Vietnam-era veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, a 3% pay hike for military and an increase in the incentive compensation for dangerous rights.

It would also take steps to slow or block Mr. Trump’s planned withdrawal of US troops from Germany and Afghanistan, and make it more difficult for the president to deploy military personnel to the southern border.

The bill also directly addresses the racial justice protests sparked over the summer by the murder of black Americans, including George Floyd, at the hands of police. All federal crowd control officials at protests and demonstrations should identify themselves and their agencies. And it contains the bipartisan measure that orders the Pentagon to begin the process of renaming military bases to the names of Confederate leaders, a provision Democrats fought to keep in the bill.

If Mr. Trump followed through on his veto threat, the House would be the first to attempt a waiver.

Emily cochrane contribution to reporting.

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