Trump lashes out at Republican leaders over looming veto override
Donald Trump, facing a humiliating first veto override of his presidency, lashed out at Republican leaders in Congress on Tuesday as relations soured ahead of a crucial pair of runoff elections in Georgia that could determine control of the Senate.
The 74-year-old Trump, in a series of tweets from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he is on vacation, took aim at erstwhile close ally Senator Mitch McConnell, the powerful Republican Majority Leader.
“Weak and tired Republican ‘leadership’ will allow the bad Defense Bill to pass,” Trump said of the looming override by the Senate of his veto of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“A disgraceful act of cowardice and total submission by weak people to Big Tech,” said Trump, who vetoed the defense bill in part because it does not repeal Section 230, a federal law that provides liability protection to internet companies.
“Negotiate a better Bill, or get better leaders, NOW!” he said. “Senate should not approve NDAA until fixed!!!”
McConnell shrugged off Trump’s tweets and scheduled a vote to override the president’s veto of the defense bill for Wednesday.
But Senator Bernie Sanders filed a procedural objection that could end up delaying the vote until at least Friday.
Trump also criticized McConnell’s refusal to allow a vote in the Senate to increase coronavirus relief payments to Americans to $2,000 from $600, a move approved by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives already with wide bipartisan support.
“Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP,” Trump said. “$600 IS NOT ENOUGH!”
In a twin rebuke to the president, McConnell objected to holding a vote on increasing the direct payments while also calling for the White House veto of the fiscal 2021 defense bill to be rejected.
The House voted 322 to 87 on Monday to override Trump’s veto of the $740.5 billion defense bill, with 109 Republicans breaking ranks and siding with the Democrats.
The motion will also have to gain two-thirds support in the Senate to override the president’s veto.
In his tweets on Tuesday, Trump also lashed out at Republican leaders for failing to support his baseless claims that he won the November 3 election against Democrat Joe Biden.
“WE NEED NEW & ENERGETIC REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP,” he tweeted.
“Can you imagine if the Republicans stole a Presidential Election from the Democrats — All hell would break out,” he said. “Republican leadership only wants the path of least resistance.
“Our leaders (not me, of course!) are pathetic,” he said. “They only know how to lose! P.S. I got MANY Senators and Congressmen/Congresswomen Elected. I do believe they forgot!”
Trump’s attacks on the Republican leadership come one week ahead of a pair of high-stakes runoff elections in Georgia which will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate.
Trump is scheduled to go to the southern state on January 4 to campaign for Republican Senate candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler ahead of the vote the next day.
Georgia has been a reliably Republican state but it voted narrowly for Biden in the presidential election, and Perdue and Loeffler are locked in tight races with Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
The House veto override came a day after Trump caved in to pressure and signed a $900 billion coronavirus relief and stimulus package that he had also threatened to veto.
Trump threatened for days not to sign the relief package that had been hammered out by his own treasury secretary and had received broad bipartisan support in Congress.
His surprise move risked shutting down the government from Tuesday and depriving millions of Americans of economic relief badly needed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump finally backed down under bipartisan pressure and signed the relief bill at Mar-a-Lago on Sunday.
President-elect Biden called the passage of the Covid relief package a “step in the right direction” on Tuesday but voiced hope lawmakers will do more.
“It will pay for some, but far from all of what we need to fix the Covid response. It’s a down payment,” Biden said in Delaware after a briefing from pandemic experts.
Trump’s capitulation on the relief bill, the looming veto override and his increasingly strained relations with Republican leaders are the latest signs of his waning power as he prepares to leave the White House on January 20.
Including the defence bill, Trump has vetoed nine bills during his four years in the White House. Congress has not previously mustered the votes needed to override any of his vetoes.
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