The House on Tuesday evening voted to pass the final conferenced version of the $741 billion fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act with a veto-proof majority, as the White House issued another formal veto threat.
Lawmakers voted 355 to 78 to pass the bill, well above the two-thirds approval mark that would be required to override a potential veto.
“After months of hard work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress, I am proud of our finished product. Given the strength of the bill, I am confident the conference report will receive similarly robust support in the Senate this week before heading to the President’s desk for signature. It is my hope that the President signs the FY21 NDAA into law given how important passage is for our service members and their families, however I remain confident that Congress will exercise our authority to override a potential veto should he choose to put his ego first,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote in a statement following the vote.
The president has repeatedly threatened to veto the bill over its inclusion of a directive to rename bases named after Confederate leaders and for not including a provision for stripping a social media-related regulation.
On Tuesday, the White House issued another statement that it “strongly opposes passage of the conference report,” doubling down on the veto threat.
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus backed Trump in voting down the measure, while a majority of Republicans in the chamber supported the bipartisan bill.
A total of 37 Democrats voted against the bill, largely members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who had pushed for a 10 percent cut to the defense budget.
Smith and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the HASC ranking member, told reporters on Monday they are confident that both the House and Senate will meet the two-thirds majority required to override the veto if the president follows through on his plan (Defense Daily, Dec. 7).
The NDAA conference report includes authorizing $9.1 billion for 93 F-35 aircraft, 14 more than included in the president’s budget request, funding the build of two Virginia-class submarines and supports $2.2 billion in funds to begin a new Pacific Deterrence Initiative (Defense Daily, Dec. 4).
The final base renaming provision in the bill, which has drawn bipartisan support from both chambers, reflects the Senate’s original proposal and sets a three-year timeline for changing the names of installations.
The bill also includes a $230 million cut to the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System and calls for funding five additional CH-47F Block II Chinooks while pressing the service on future plans for the heavy lift aircraft (Defense Daily, Dec. 4).
Lawmakers also included a provision to establish a Senate-confirmable National Cyber Director position within the Executive Office of the President, a key recommendation from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (Defense Daily, Dec. 4).