US House Passes $ 740 Billion Defense Bill Fights With Trump Looms

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States House of Representatives on Tuesday approved its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, a $ 740 billion policy for the Pentagon that President Donald Trump threatened to veto over a provision that eliminates the Confederate names of military bases.

United States President Donald Trump faces an information session on response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the White House in Washington, USA, July 21, 2020. REUTERS / Leah Millis

The Democratic-led House backed the measure by 295-125, paving the way for negotiations with the Republican-led Senate on a compromise version of the NDAA, which Trump would later sign or veto.

On Tuesday morning, the White House issued an official announcement that Trump would veto the bill if it required the Defense Department to remove the names of Confederate generals from U.S. military bases.

“Section 2829 is part of a sustained effort to erase from the history of the Nation those who do not meet an ever-changing standard of conduct,” the White House said in a statement lamenting a “left-wing cultural revolution.”

The White House said it also opposed the NDAA provisions of the House that are seen to impact Trump’s authority, including limits on the use of funds in the war in Afghanistan and controls on the deployment of troops from the National Guard in the United States.

State and local leaders have opposed recent deployments of National Guard troops during anti-racism protests.

The Republican-led Senate is debating its version of the NDAA this week. The Senate bill also includes a plan to change the names of bases like Fort Bragg and Fort Benning, which honor the men who fought against US troops 155 years ago during the Civil War.

Their names and statues honoring men who owned slaves or fought on the slavery side have been the target of protests over police brutality across the United States and the world, sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man. , while in police custody in May.

Trump has called the protesters “anarchists and agitators.”

The Senate on Tuesday defeated an NDAA amendment that would have blocked the transfer from the Pentagon to local police of military-grade equipment that has been used against protesters. It passed a measure to provide more training to the police and put more controls on such transfers.

A Pentagon spokesman said he hoped Congress and the White House would resolve their differences. “They understand the importance of the NDAA, and we are confident that … the NDAA will be signed and implemented in time so that we can have a budget for our forces,” he said.

Congress passed the NDAA for 59 consecutive years. It is one of the few major laws treated as a “must pass” because it regulates everything from salary increases and benefit changes for troops to how many planes to buy or how best to compete with rivals like Russia and China.

Report by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler

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