Democrats are furious at President Donald Trump's threat to veto a crucial defense bill that contains a pay raise for service members if they don't agree to repeal certain legal protections enjoyed by tech companies.
The section 230 of the law the president wants strip has nothing to do with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It's part of 1996 Communications Decency Act.
Trump issued his veto threat late Tuesday night as part of his war against social media companies. But the president is also unhappy the defense bill contains a bipartisan provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate military members.
'It's a fucking joke,' a senior Democratic staffer on Capitol Hill told Politico of the president's move. 'This is a complex debate that has no business as an eleventh-hour airdrop.'
The House and Senate have passed their own versions of the defense bill and are in conference, where a final version of the legislation is being worked out.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Some congressional aides have expressed skepticism the president would actually veto the crucial legislation, suggesting his tweets were his way of try to influence the negotiations on the final product.
Language changing Section 230 could be dropped in the defense legislation but it's unlikely to happen without congressional hearings or additional input from lawmakers.
Democrats are furious with President Donald Trump's threat to veto the crucial National Defense Authorization Act if certain provisions protecting tech companies are not repealed
Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii agreed with President Trump that section 230 needs to be amended but said it should happen with hearings and separate legislation
Democratic Congressman Adam Smith, the powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, charged Trump with issuing the veto threat because 'you're mad at Twitter'
One Democratic senator said he agreed that changes need to be made to section 230 but said it needs to be done through hearings and separate legislation - not the defense bill. He charged Trump with really being angry about the Confederate bases.
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'I have written a bipartisan bill to reform section 230 but the idea that it should be repealed, with no hearing, in the defense bill, is goofy. You will know who is serious about policy making in this space by whether or not they reflexively agree w Trump here,' wrote Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii on Twitter.
'It's not Section 230. It's the confederate named bases. That's why the President is threatening to veto the NDAA,' he noted.
And Democratic Congressman Adam Smith, the powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, charged Trump with issuing the veto threat because 'you're mad at Twitter.'
'To be clear, Mr. President, Section 230 repeal wasn't included in the House OR Senate version of the NDAA. You're mad at Twitter. We all know it. You're willing to veto the defense bill over something that has everything to do with your ego, and nothing to do with defense,' he tweeted.
The $740 billion legislation sets defense priorities for the coming year, including a pay raise for service members and funding for female-specific uniforms and body armor, which doesn't yet exist.
In addition to funding the typical defense needs of the military, this year's legislation also has several quality of life provisions for service members and their families, including funding to support education for military children with special needs whose families have to frequently change school districts.
Trump has bragged about his work for the military. Part of his stump speech is his claim that he got them their first pay raise in 10 years, which is false. Service members have received a pay raise every year for decades.
The president also reportedly called service members who died in battle 'losers' and 'suckers' as reported in a bombshell article from The Atlantic in September. Trump has denied saying that.
The NDAA, as the defense act is known, is one of the few major pieces of legislation seen as a 'must-pass' because it governs all Pentagon operations, which is considered a national security necessity.
But President Trump and Republicans are pushing for greater regulations for Big Tech, charging the companies with unfairly silencing conservatives, and also want to remove their blanket section 230 protection from being sued for content on their platforms.
Trump specifically mentioned that protection in his veto threat issued Tuesday night.
'Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to 'Big Tech' (the only companies in America that have it - corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity, Trump tweeted.
'Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,' the president said.
'Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!' he added in a second tweet.
Trump has waged a war on social media throughout much of his presidency.
In October he signed an executive order directing executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, to study whether they can place new regulations on tech companies.
Post-election, Twitter has tagged many of Trump's tweets because of the president's false claims he won a second term. Facebook also removed some of his pre-election day posts because of their material.
Trump will also lose certain 'public interest' protections he enjoyed as president when he leaves the Oval Office, meaning his accounts will be even more likely to face tags and warning from the tech companies.
Twitter confirmed that Trump's @realDonaldTrump account - which has 88.7 million followers - will be subject to the same rules as any other user - including bans on inciting violence and posting false information about voting or the coronavirus.
The company has special policies for world leaders and some other officials, leaving rule-breaking content online if there's 'a clear public interest value to keeping the tweet on the service.'
Twitter has left up Trump's false tweets but flags them for inaccurate information. After he leaves the White House on January 20th, the company could remove his future musings if they violate user agreement