Defense bill prevails over Trump veto

The U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives in overturning President Trump's veto of the annual defense policy bill in a rare New Year's Day vote.


The U.S. Senate voted to override the president's veto of the annual defense bill in a rare New Year's Day vote.

The vote was 81-13.

The $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act now becomes law over the objections of President Donald Trump, who vetoed the bill because it did not include a non-defense provision to eliminate Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which shields online platforms from liability claims arising from user speech. Trump also objected to a provision in the NDAA that calls for renaming military installations named for Confederate leaders.

The House voted to override Trump's veto on Dec. 28, on a 322-87 vote.

This was the first veto override of Trump's presidency. The bill had passed both chambers by overwhelming majorities before Trump's veto. Traditionally, the annual NDAA is regarded as must-pass legislation. The bill has been signed into law by the close of the calendar year for 59 straight years. 

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in remarks on the Senate floor on Friday that the bill includes multiple cybersecurity provisions "directly relevant to the Solar Winds hack" including new authorities to allow "the cyber division of DHS to begin hunting threats on government networks."

The ranking member on the committee, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), warned on cybersecurity risks when urging colleagues to override Trump's veto. "Every day we are learning more about the Russian penetration," he said. "I suspect it's very serious." He said the cybersecurity measures in the NDAA that were recommended by a congressional commission are "just the first step…but if we don't take this first step we fall behind."

Another key provision is giving the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at DHS the authority to issue administrative subpoenas that will enhance the agency's ability to investigate hacks of private sector networks.

"Today, CISA cannot make contact with a company that has a vulnerable piece of infrastructure on the internet," Brandon Wales, CISA's acting director, said in December.

This article first appeared on FCW, a Defense Systems partner site.