Senate pushes ahead — slowly — in battle to override Trump defense bill veto

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The fate of the annual defense policy bill hit a standstill this week as Senate Democrats held strong to their demand of holding a vote to increase stimulus checks to millions of Americans before enacting the military legislation, temporarily suspending a handful of military pay and benefit provisions.

The Senate on Thursday voted 80-12 to proceed with debate on overriding President Trump’s veto of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a sign there were far more than enough votes to obtain the two-thirds majority needed to override.

But as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sought to push the must-pass $740.5 billion defense bill through before the end of the congressional session Sunday, Democrats are trying to force a second up-or-down vote to increase stimulus checks to $2,000 — an increase backed by Mr. Trump and was approved by the House earlier this week. But Mr. McConnell, a master of Senate strategy, appeared unwilling to bend.

“The Senate will not let our national security be shoved off course, certainly not be senators who have spent years, literally years, trying to gut America’s capabilities while our adversaries continue ramping up,” Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said of the group of senators, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders, seeking to suspend the veto override vote.

With Wednesday’s vote to proceed with the veto override debate, opponents can delay but not prevent a full Senate vote by the weekend. The veto override vote is now expected to take place in the New Year, inching up to the new Congress being sworn in this Sunday.

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