BATH — The House voted to override President Trump’s veto of a $740 billion defense bill containing a provision for Bath Iron Works Monday, pushing it onto the Senate. But an unrelated disagreement over COVID-19 relief checks is blocking the Senate from voting on overturning the president’s veto.

Last week, Trump vetoed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which directs how federal funds should be used by the Pentagon. The annual defense bill approves two new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one of which will be built at Bath Iron Works, and gives a 3% pay raise to military personnel.

The Democrat-led House voted to override the president’s veto by a 322-87 vote Monday, pushing it through to the Senate. Senators initially passed the bipartisan defense bill earlier this month with a veto-proof 84-13 majority.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine’s 1st District where BIW and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are based, said she voted to override the president’s veto. In a statement Monday she called Trump’s move to veto the defense bill “shortsighted and irresponsible.”

“This move is just another in a long line by the president to sow chaos and discord, leaving our servicemembers in the lurch as a result,” Pingree said. “His veto put at risk a pay raise for our troops, paid leave, child care, housing, aid for Bath Iron Works, and benefits for veterans exposed to Agent Orange — all because he cares more about his personal feuds with social media platforms and racist Confederate monuments.”

Trump vetoed the bill after lawmakers refused to add language repealing a law that legally shields social media platforms from being liable for what users post on the online platform. The provision also gives companies the right to “restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

Trump, an avid Twitter-user, began criticizing the company after many of his tweets claiming election fraud were, and continue to be, marked as “disputed” by the company.

Should the Senate vote to override the veto by a two-thirds margin, it will become law, making it the first time Congress successfully overturned an objection from Trump in the waning days of his presidency.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Independent Sen. Angus King have vowed to vote to override the veto.

“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,” King, who caucuses with Democrats, said in response to Trump’s veto last week.

While on the Senate floor Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his colleagues to override Trump’s veto.

“President Trump has rightly noted this year’s defense bill doesn’t contain every provision that we Republicans would have wanted,” said McConnell. “I’m confident our Democratic colleagues feel the same way. But that is the case every year. And yet, for 59 consecutive years and counting, Washington has put our differences aside, found common ground, and passed the annual defense bill.”

While McConnell has assured he has the votes necessary to override Trump’s veto, the vote on the issue was waylaid Wednesday after it became tied to a disagreement over how large COVID-19 relief checks, part of a separate bill, should be.

Trump has called for the checks to be $2,000 rather than $600, a demand Democrats favor and the House approved, but some Republican lawmakers, including McConnell, continue to object.

In a statement Tuesday, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said he would object to an override vote until the Senate holds a vote on the $2,000 direct payment.

McConnell responded by proposing a vote on $2,000 relief checks as long as it’s packaged with two things Democrats oppose: forming a commission to study the 2020 presidential election and charges of fraud, and repealing the law legally shielding social media companies. McConnell said Wednesday his proposed legislation “has no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate.”

It’s unknown when the Senate will vote on overriding Trump’s veto, but they must vote on it before the new Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3. If the Senate runs out of time, the defense bill will die and must be reintroduced after the new Congress is sworn in, further delaying awarding appropriations outlined in the defense bill.

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