Speed Reads

lame duck

Congress is returning to override Trump's veto of a popular defense spending bill

When Congress passed the $2.3 trillion omnibus 2021 spending bill and COVID-19 relief package last week, lawmakers were hoping their business had concluded until the 117th Congress is sworn in Jan. 3. President Trump ended those hopes last week when he vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, a $740 billion Pentagon spending and policy bill that Congress and the White House have delivered on time every year for decades.

The NDAA passed with veto-proof bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate, and both chambers will return this week to see if those majorities hold to override Trump's veto. The House will vote on Monday, and if it quashes the veto, as expected, the Senate is expected to vote on Tuesday. This would be the first time Congress has overridden one of Trump's rare vetoes. Trump objects to a provision in the bill directing the Pentagon to rename military bases named after Confederate generals, and also the lack of language repealing an unrelated measure granting social media and other internet platforms broad legal liability for content posted by their users.

The House at least will also vote Monday on legislation that would increase to $2,000 the $600 direct COVID-19 stimulus checks included in a $900 billion pandemic relief bill Trump signed Sunday night. That is the only one of Trump's post-signing demands Congress will likely take up during his last three weeks in office. Republicans generally oppose raising the amount of the stimulus checks, and while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will try to force a vote on the House legislation, objections from Senate Republicans are all but guaranteed to sink the effort.

The last-minute lame-duck veto override attempts, Politico notes, are "the latest whiplash for the 116th Congress, which began with an epic 35-day government shutdown and will end with twin public health and economic crises."