In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the annual defense bill, following through on threats to veto a measure that has broad bipartisan support in Congress and potentially setting up the first override vote of his presidency.

The bill affirms 3% pay raises for U.S. troops and authorizes more than $740 billion in military programs and construction. The bill includes a provision approving two new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one of which would be built at Bath Iron Works.

BIW spokesman David Hench said the General Dynamics-owned shipyard was not prepared to comment on the veto.

Efforts to reach Tim Suitter, spokesman for Local S6, the shipyard’s largest union, were unsuccessful Wednesday afternoon.

The House was poised to return Monday, and the Senate on Tuesday, to consider votes to override the president’s veto.

Long before issuing the veto, Trump offered a series of rationales for rejecting it. He has called for lawmakers to include limits on social media companies he claimed are biased against him — and to strip out language that allows for the renaming of military bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood that honor Confederate leaders. Without going into detail, he has claimed the biggest winner from the defense bill would be China.

In his veto message to the House, Trump cited those objections and stated that the measure “fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions. It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia.”

He also wrote: “Numerous provisions of the Act directly contradict my Administration’s foreign policy, particularly my efforts to bring our troops home.”

Both the House and Senate passed the measure by margins large enough to override a veto from the president. Trump had vetoed eight bills previously, but those vetoes were sustained because lawmakers did not gain the two-thirds majority needed in each chamber for the bill to become law without Trump’s signature.

“By vetoing the overwhelmingly-bipartisan NDAA, President Trump is denying a pay raise for our nation’s servicemembers, undermining our national security, and threatening Maine jobs at facilities like Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard,” said Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

King continued: “The President has cited a variety of different reasons to explain why he opposes this bill, but each excuse is either patently false, wholly unrelated to the military, or antithetical to America’s values. What should raise grave concern in every American, regardless of political beliefs, is that this NDAA is the single-most comprehensive piece of cybersecurity legislation ever passed by Congress; as we work to determine the harm done by the recent cyber incursion, the provisions in this NDAA would be a shield against future tactics by our foes worldwide. In the days ahead, I hope that the large, veto-proof majorities which initially supported this legislation will come together once again to override the President’s veto – for the good of our servicemembers and our nation.”

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said she will vote to override Trump’s veto.

“The NDAA represents one of Congress’ most important responsibilities,” said Collins. “For the past 59 consecutive years, Congress has come together in a bipartisan manner to craft this annual legislation.  The NDAA authorizes funding to support our brave military members serving overseas — including a 3% pay raise for our troops in this year’s bill—sets policy for our nation’s military and critical national defense priorities, and contains significant cyber security provisions that would help thwart future cyber attacks.”

A massive cyberattack this year, blamed on Russia, breached a number of U.S. agencies, such as the Treasury Department.

In advance of the veto, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said the bill would help deter Chinese aggression. Other GOP backers of the measure, including Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Senate leader, and Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, have tweeted that the bill would counter threats from countries such as China.

Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Trump’s declaration that China was the biggest winner in the defense bill was false. Reed also noted the shifting explanations Trump had given for the veto.

“President Trump clearly hasn’t read the bill, nor does he understand what’s in it,” Reed said. “There are several bipartisan provisions in here that get tougher on China than the Trump Administration has ever been.”

The measure guides Pentagon policy and cements decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals. Many programs can only go into effect if the bill is approved, including military construction.

McConnell, in a rare break with Trump, had urged passage despite Trump’s threat to veto it. McConnell said it was important for Congress to continue its nearly six-decade-long streak of passing the defense policy bill.

Bath Iron Works is one of the state’s largest employers, with a workforce of about 6,500 people from every corner of the state. Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers — constructed only at BIW and Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi —have for years been considered the backbone of the modern U.S. Navy.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine’s 1st District where BIW and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard reside, said she will vote to override the president’s veto.

“In one of his last acts, President Trump is holding up important national security policy, including a pay raise for our troops and more ships for Bath Iron Works. It’s a shameful move, especially two days before Christmas and in the wake of devastating cyberattacks on the United States. I will vote to override this veto.”

Efforts to obtain comment from 2nd District Congressman Jared Golden were unsuccessful Wednesday.

With reporting by Keven Freking of The Associated Press. Kathleen O’Brien of The Times Record contributed to this report.

This story will be updated.

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