- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Congress is poised to defy President Trump’s Twitter veto threat and pass the defense policy bill without changes to the law governing social media companies that the president demanded.

The Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe on Wednesday said the final bill does not include measures that would strip liability protection for internet companies, as Mr. Trump wanted.

Mr. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, said he broke the news to Mr. Trump, telling him such internet policy does not belong in the Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets military policy and the Pentagon’s yearly budget.

“Only difference of opinion that I have is I don’t want it on this bill because we can’t have a bill with that language on it,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill.

He said that he and Mr. Trump had an “honest disagreement,” but the conversation was “very friendly.”

Mr. Trump tweeted Tuesday evening that he would veto the NDAA unless it includes language to repeal Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted — whether their complaint is legitimate or not.

He called Section 230, “a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” and said, “Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill.”

The $740.5 billion bill has been passed by Congress every year for more than five decades, and Mr. Inhofe said this year should be no different. But despite his confidence in the bill’s passage, Mr. Inhofe said he is not sure if the president will ultimately sign it.

“I don’t know yet,” Mr. Inhofe said when asked if Mr. Trump will sign the bill into law. “I have no control over that.”

Mr. Trump’s veto threat has fallen flat with some lawmakers, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, who told reporters Wednesday that the president is “just trying to use the NDAA as a way to punish companies that he thinks are not pushing his propaganda.”

But White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany doubled down on Mr. Trump’s threat over Section 230 and said, “The president is serious about it. He is going to put pressure on Congress to step up on this.”

Mr. Trump has threatened to veto the massive defense legislation more than once, as his primary criticism of the bill stems from language that would mandate the names of 10 military bases that honor Confederate leaders be changed.

Mr. Inhofe confirmed that the legislation, sponsored by Ms. Warren, made it into the final version of the NDAA. It remains unclear whether the full bill will receive a veto-proof majority.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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