Lawmakers face procedural nightmare in event of unsuccessful vote to override NDAA veto

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The Senate is gearing up to vote to override President Trump’s recent veto of the annual defense policy bill and must obtain a two-thirds majority to successfully do so.

Senators approved the National Defense Authorization act earlier this month with the necessary two-thirds support, but the legislation was later vetoed by Mr. Trump, who cited the bill’s failure to repeal legal protections for social media giants, plus its renaming of military bases that are tributes to Confederates, among other objections.

Despite longtime Trump allies including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe breaking from the president and rallying for the legislation’s passage, it remains possible that lawmakers fall just short of obtaining 67 votes to override the veto.

The House on Monday overwhelmingly voted in favor of overriding Mr. Trump’s veto, but lawmakers could face a procedural nightmare in the coming weeks if the Senate fails to override the veto, forcing lawmakers to effectively start the process from scratch as the new Congress is set to be sworn in on Sunday.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, Washington state Democrat, predicted earlier this month that if the $740.5 billion legislation is vetoed, the process to restart would be “extraordinarily difficult.”

“You would have to restart the entire process, and go through committee, and maybe everyone says okay, and they don’t offer amendments,” he told reporters earlier this month. “That would be extraordinarily difficult.”

Along with the ranking member of the panel, Rep. Mac Thornberry, Texas Republican, the lawmakers cautioned that failure to implement the NDAA before the new administration could cause serious implications for military families.

“The short term damage is likely that [service members] won’t get paid bonuses,” Mr. Smith warned.

“Training will stop on a number of very large training areas across the country … Our ability to properly reform the Pentagon stops,” he continued. “So, it’s bad. And we are going to do everything we can to try and avoid it.”

Mr. Thornberry predicted that “military families are going to see their compensation cut, and that is undoubtedly the effect if we don’t pass an authorization bill.”

“Plus, there are a lot of new benefits, good things in this bill, that would not take place.”

The Senate is expected to hold a vote to override Mr. Trump’s veto Wednesday afternoon. While a handful of lawmakers have said they are supporting the override, some Republicans have said they may vote to sustain Mr. Trump’s decision.

If the override is successful, it would mark the first time Mr. Trump’s veto is overridden during his administration.

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