by John L. Micek
In a flurry of activity Monday, the majority-Democrat U.S. House voted to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a $741 billion defense appropriations bill, even as it handed the lame duck Republican a hollow win by voting to approve $2,000 stimulus payments for most Americans.
In all, 44 Republicans crossed over to vote with Democrats to approve the expanded stimulus payments, which were pegged at $600 in the coronavirus relief bill that Trump had threatened to veto and then abruptly signed into law on Sunday night, as expanded unemployment payments and other pandemic protections were about to blink out of existence. The bill passed by a margin of 275-13, CNBC reported.
But any victory for the White House on the expanded payments, insisted upon by Trump, is likely to be short-lived since it appears unlikely the Republican-controlled Senate will approve the measure, Roll Call reported. The increased payments would cost $464 billion, up from the roughly $160 billion now, according to a congressional estimate released Monday, Politico reported.
All nine Democratic members of Pennsylvania’s Capitol Hill delegation voted in favor of the expanded payments, according to an official House roll call.
Eight of the Keystone State’s nine Republicans broke with the White House to vote against the expanded payments sought by Trump. U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, crossed over to vote with Democrats, according to a House roll call.
The House voted 322-87 to override Trump’s veto of the massive defense appropriations bill, which included pay raises for military service members. Trump sent the bill back to Congress complaining, among other things, that it renamed bases that currently bear the names of Confederate traitors, and did not repeal a provision giving liability protections to social media companies, the Washington Post reported.
U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Monday that Trump vetoed the measure “because of something that isn’t in the bill and was never going to be in the bill, something totally unrelated to national security and something that we were not going to do in any event.”
All nine Democratic members of Pennsylvania’s delegation, joined by five of the state’s nine Republicans, voted to override Trump’s veto, according to an official House roll call.
GOP lawmakers breaking with the White House included U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District; Dan Meuser, R-9th District; Fred Keller, R-12th District; Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-15th District, and Mike Kelly, R-16th District.
GOP U.S. Reps. Scott Perry, R-10th District; Lloyd Smucker, R-11th District; John Joyce, R-13th District, and Guy Reschenthaler, R-14th District, voted against the override, according to an official House roll call.
Kelly, a staunch Trump loyalist, who spearheaded a failed U.S. Supreme Court fight to overturn Pennsylvania’s mail-in balloting law, voted against the White House on the stimulus payments, but backed Trump’s veto of the defense bill.
In a statement, the northwestern Pennsylvania lawmaker said the expanded stimulus payment “misses the mark because it is not targeted to people who need it most and ignores President Trump’s call to reduce wasteful government spending. Our path forward must include direct relief, spending cuts, and opening the Commonwealth’s economy so families can go back to work.”
The relief bill was folded into a massive omnibus bill intended to keep the government functioning through September 2021. Some of the provisions Trump to which objected were negotiated by his own administration.
Defending his override vote, Kelly said in a statement that while he agrees with Trump’s “goal of amending or abolishing Section 230 [the social media provision], that debate must not delay military planning for 2021.”
The Senate is expected to hold its own override vote on Tuesday, Roll Call reported. The bill passed both chambers with veto-proof majorities.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, tweeted after Trump’s veto that the defense bill should become law, and that another measure can be used to address liability concerns related to Section 230.
“The NDAA has become law every year for 59 years straight because it’s absolutely vital to our national security and our troops,” Inhofe wrote. “This year must not be an exception. Our men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform shouldn’t be denied what they need — ever.”
Capital-Star Washington Reporter Laura Olson contributed to this story.