BATH — A $741 billion defense bill that includes a provision for Bath Iron Works is stalled on President Trump’s desk, despite his continued threats to veto the bill unless lawmakers add language removing a legal shield for social media companies.

The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which directs how federal funds should be used by the Defense Department, approves two new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one of which will be built at Bath Iron Works, and gives a 3% pay raise to military personnel.

Both the House and Senate passed the bill with veto-proof margins earlier this month. The House passed the bill 335-78, and the Senate approved the bill, 84-13. The policy bill now sits on the President’s desk, and he has until Wednesday, Dec. 23 to sign or veto it. Should his deadline pass, the bill will become law without Trump’s signature.

Trump can still veto the bill, and if he does, Congress may not have time to override his veto before its session ends.

Both the House and Senate would need a two-thirds majority vote to override a Trump veto, but Janet Martin, a government professor at Bowdoin College, said she doesn’t know whether that’s possible because “Democrats themselves don’t have enough people for a two-thirds vote.”

“There have been some Republicans breaking ranks, but I don’t know if enough of them will join the Democrats in overriding the veto,” said Martin.

All four of Maine’s congressional delegates said they support the defense bill and would vote to override a veto from the president.

“The NDAA represents one of Congress’ most important responsibilities,” Sen. Susan Collins said. “For the past 59 consecutive years, Congress has come together in a bipartisan manner to craft this annual legislation. The President should sign this critical bill into law. I would vote to override a veto.”

Sen. Angus King previously told The Times Record 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.

King told CNN on Friday the defense bill “happens to be the most important piece of cyber defense legislation ever passed by the U.S. Congress.

“We need these protections,” King said. “If ever we had doubt about it, we learned this week how serious this is.”

King referenced the recently uncovered large-scale cyberattack targeting the U.S., which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Russia is behind. It’s not clear exactly what the hackers were seeking, but experts say it could include nuclear secrets, blueprints for advanced weaponry, COVID-19 vaccine-related research and information for dossiers on key government and industry leaders.

In a Dec. 13 tweet, Trump wrote: “The biggest winner of our new defense bill is China! I will veto!”

Trump threatened to veto the bill unless it contains language repealing a law that legally shields online companies including social media platforms from being liable for what users post on the online platform and 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.”

Some Maine lawmakers have criticized Trump for threatening to withhold pay raises from troops over his personal vendetta with social media companies.

In a statement earlier this month, Rep. 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.”

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.


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