This year’s National Defense Authorization Act approves two new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one of which will be built at Bath Iron Works. BIW is one of only two shipyards that builds Arleigh Burkes for the Navy.  Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

BATH — Bath Iron Works starts the new year by adding a new Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to its docket after the Senate voted to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a $741 billion defense bill.

The Senate voted 81-13 on Jan. 1 to override Trump’s veto of the the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual policy bill that directs how federal funds should be used by the Pentagon. The Senate significantly exceeded the two-thirds margin needed to override the president for the first time, coming with less than a month of his term left.

The 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.

Although the defense bill passed a few weeks later than it would have without Trump’s veto, Craig Hooper, CEO of Themistocles Advisory Group, a Maryland-based national security advisory firm, said it will not delay benefits set aside for BIW.

Hooper said Trump’s veto accomplished nothing more than irritating lawmakers.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Hooper said. “As long as the bill was passed, we’re in a considerably better place than we would’ve been if it wasn’t passed. The president is a lame duck and every Congressman who has skin in the game knows there wouldn’t be any winners if this hadn’t passed.”

Janet Martin, a government professor at Bowdoin College, said she doesn’t think she has seen the Senate in session on New Year’s Day before. Congress’ unofficial deadline to pass the bill was on Sunday, Jan. 3, when the new Congress was sworn in, she said.

“It’s a good thing that the override took place when it did,” said Martin. “They would’ve had to redo the whole bill if it didn’t pass and went into the next Congress.”

Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King announced their votes to override the president’s veto in separate statements last Friday.

“This bill supports our brave military men and women in uniform — including a three percent pay raise for our troops—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,” Collins wrote. “In addition, there are numerous provisions important to our state in the bill, including support for the Maine National Guard as well as the jobs of the hardworking Mainers who make invaluable contributions to our national security, such as those at BIW, PNSY, Pratt & Whitney, DFAS Limestone, and Naval Support Activity Cutler.”

“As it has for generations, Congress worked on a strongly bipartisan basis to craft this year’s NDAA, which will strengthen our national security, improve pay and care for our servicemembers, and support jobs across Maine, including shipbuilding priorities at Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard,” King wrote. “In a Congress far too often marked by divisiveness, both Houses came together to advance this bill with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. Today, we’ve completed our work, and overridden the President’s misguided veto to enact a bill that will make important steps to keep Americans safe.”

BIW Spokesman David Hench declined to comment Monday.

The Democrat-led House voted to override the president’s veto in a 322-87 vote Monday, pushing it through to the Senate. It was batted around the Senate floor for a few days and was tied to unrelated COVID-19 relief bills before Senators voted on it Friday.

The president fired back at Republican Senators following the override vote. In a tweet Friday he wrote: “Our Republican Senate just missed an opportunity to get rid of Section 230, which gives unlimited power to Big Tech companies. Pathetic!! Now they want to give people ravaged by the China Virus $600, rather than the $2,000 which they so desperately need. Not fair or smart!”

Trump vetoed the bill last month after lawmakers refused to add language repealing a law known as Section 230 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.”

Some lawmakers criticized Trump’s threats to withholding defense funding, arguing his devotion to repealing legal protections for social media companies stems from his personal vendetta against Twitter and other social media platforms.

In a Dec. 3 statement, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, a Democrat who voted to override Trump’s veto, wrote there’s “bipartisan agreement that Section 230 should be reformed, but for the Commander-in-Chief to threaten a veto of the entire NDAA over something that has nothing to do with our military is plain reckless.”

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


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