BATH — Maine lawmakers are condemning President Trump’s threats to veto a $740 billion national defense policy bill that authorizes new dense infrastructure made by Bath Iron Works.

The Defense Authorization Act, which directs how federal funds should or should not be used by the U.S. Department of Defense, passed the Senate 84-14 in July. The policy bill approves two new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one of which will be built at BIW, according to a July statement from Republican Sen. Susan Collins.

House and Senate negotiators agreed on a finalized version of the bill on Wednesday and the policy bill will be voted by both chambers on in the coming days. However, Trump threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, unless it contains language repealing Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

Section 230 legally shields online companies including social media platforms from being liable for what users posts on the online platform, understanding that the company is not the “publisher” of that content. The provision also gives companies the right to “restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

Trump illustrated his demand in tweets Wednesday, which read: “Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to ‘Big Tech’… is a serious threat to our National Security and Election Integrity. Our country can never be safe and secure if we allow it to stand, therefore, if the very dangerous and unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, I will be forced to unequivocally veto the bill when sent to the very beautiful resolute desk.”

Trump’s calls to terminate Section 230 erupted about when #DiaperDon began trending on Twitter in response to Trump sitting at a small desk during a press conference.

Maine Independent Sen. Angus King condemned Trump’s threats Thursday, saying while the 24-year-old Section 230 should be reviewed, the National Defense Authorization Act “is not the place to try to fix it.”

“This is not an appropriate way to make public policy,” King said. “He’s still the president, he should submit a bill proposal and we’ll review it. Don’t threaten the troops with a proposal that’s coming at the 11th and a half hour. I hope that the President will realize that and not stand in the way of pay raises and adequate weapons for the troop.”

While King declined to comment on the specific provisions within the bill, he said it contains “good news for Maine, both Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.” However, he warned a veto from Trump “could very well be bad news for Maine,” because it could delay funding for defense materials and potentially change what the bill authorizes entirely.

Collins, a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, echoed King in a statement Thursday, adding: “Congress has passed this important bill every year for nearly six decades, and this year must not be any different. The president should not veto the NDAA over an unrelated communications provision.”

In a statement Thursday, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, wrote there’s “bipartisan agreement that Section 230 should be reformed, but for the Commander-in-Chief to threaten a veto of the entire NDAA over something that has nothing to do with our military is plain reckless. It would be a shame if this President derailed important national security policy over his personal feud with social media.”

Trump’s relationship with Twitter has soured since the election after many of his tweets claiming election fraud were, and continue to be, marked as “disputed” by the company.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted “We won Michigan by a lot!” That tweet contained a link from Twitter stating “Multiple sources called this election differently.”

President-Elect Joe Biden won Michigan by over 154,000 votes, claiming the state’s 16 electoral college votes.

While Trump could veto the bill, Congress has the power to override the veto with a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

BIW and its largest union, Local S6, declined to comment Thursday.

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