Trump Again Threatens Veto of Defense Act Over Tech Legal Shield

Donald Trump late Thursday repeated his threat to veto a crucial defense policy bill after a bipartisan deal omitted a provision the president demanded, which would strip social media platforms of a key legal shield.

The president issued his warning in a tweet after Republicans and Democrats on both the House and Senate armed services panels hadreached agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act, a massive piece of legislation that, among many things, authorizes military pay raises and extra pay for troops on dangerous missions.

“Very sadly for our Nation, it looks like Senator@JimInhofe will not be putting the Section 230 termination clause into the Defense Bill. So bad for our National Security and Election Integrity. Last chance to ever get it done. I will VETO!”

He was referring to Jim Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects technology companies from liability over most content published by their users.

Inhofe told reporters earlier Thursday that while he was committed to changing Section 230, “it just doesn’t fit in the NDAA” because it doesn’t deal with the military.

“My mission is to make sure we get a defense authorization bill that is good. And we have one that’s good, it’s ready to go,” Inhofe added.

The legislation, which would also bolster funding authorizations for submarines and fighter aircraft as well as seek to curb racism and discrimination in the military, is expected to pass despite the veto threats.

While politicians from both parties have called for Section 230 to be weakened or revised, Trump and others on the political right have long complained that companies such asFacebook Inc. andTwitter Inc. have suppressed conservative opinions. The companies deny the allegations of censorship.

The Trump administration’s wish to alter or even repeal the law has taken on greater urgency since the president was defeated by Joe Biden in November’s election.

The White House has pushed for language that’s similar to the Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act, a bill sponsored by Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican.

The Defense Authorization Act has passed every year for the past 59 years. In July, Trump threatened to veto the measure because it called for renaming U.S. military installations that honor Confederate generals, including Fort Benning in Georgia and Fort Lee in Virginia.

— With assistance by Roxana Tiron, Travis J Tritten, and Laura Litvan

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