Both a veto override of the National Defense Authorization Act and an increase in COVID-19 relief payments from $600 to $2,000 passed the House on Monday night and will make their way to the Senate, where Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to put up a fight.
Trump originally vetoed the NDAA, labeling it a “gift to Russia and China.” He claimed it fails to “put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions” and called for reform to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Despite the president’s opposition to the bill, 322 representatives voted to override Trump’s veto on the NDAA, including some of his most loyal Republican members such as Reps. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Mark Green of Tennessee, Greg Gianforte of Montana, Trent Kelly of Mississippi, Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Dan Crenshaw of Texas.
The increase in the amount for COVID-19 relief payments, a measure Trump supports, passed by a tighter margin, 275-134. Previously, Trump had said he would not sign the bill, which included many bizarre items unrelated to the pandemic and current economic issues, if it did not include $2,000 direct payments to Americans. After a delay, however, Trump signed the $2.3 trillion spending bill, which included only $600 payments to Americans, into law Sunday night.
As both bills are tossed over to the Senate, Sanders said he is gearing up to filibuster the NDAA unless Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees to hold a vote on the increase in direct payments, a move the leader has yet to comment on.
“McConnell and the Senate want to expedite the override vote, and I understand that. But I’m not going to allow that to happen unless there is a vote, no matter how long that takes, on the $2,000 direct payment,” Sanders said Monday night.
If Sanders follows through on his threats to delay, Congress could face working through the holidays and shifting campaign plans for Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are in the Georgia runoff race scheduled for Jan. 5.
“The American people are desperate, and the Senate has got to do its job before leaving town,” Sanders said. “It would be unconscionable, especially after the House did the right thing, for the Senate to simply leave Washington without voting on this.”
While some Republican senators such as Marco Rubio of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri have expressed support for the $2,000 payments, it is unclear whether McConnell will have the GOP backing to pass it.