By Tom Squitieri, Talk Media News
WASHINGTON —A rare bad week is looming for President Trump — but one in which he may make history.
Congress has checked its list twice and decided as Trump leaves office, he is more naughty than nice — and their lists of bills to pass this week and next shows their attitude.
As Congress attempts to wrap up work for the year, it may pass a defense bill containing many things the president does not want and not including something he demands.
Additionally, the Senate may vote this week to block a proposed sale of weapons to the UAE.
If those happen — both have a high probability — it would be a rare week. Weapons sales are almost never blocked. Trump has vowed to veto the defense bill for any of the above reasons; if so, that would be the first time a defense bill has been vetoed by a president.
More critically, it will also be the first time since early in his administration that Trump will have been dealt setbacks by Congress. For much of his single term, he ruled congressional action.
The House plans to vote on the unified defense bill Tuesday and passage in expected by a wide margin. When its version passed earlier this year, the vote was more than the two-thirds needed to override a presidential veto.
Republican House Armed Service Committee ranking member Mac Thornberry of Texas told reporters on Monday “I’m hoping for a strong vote tomorrow. I think the stronger the vote, the less chance of having to deal with a veto later.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday the upper chamber will also vote on the defense package. That could come next week.
The Senate passed its original bill with 86 votes, also more than two-thirds.
The bill is a Christmas list of things to cause the president to seethe. Requirements to change base names honoring Confederate officer is still in while termination of Big Tech’s Section 230 liability shield protections is not — two things that have caused Trump to fulminate about a veto.
And then beyond those two, the defense bill looks like a list to Santa asking him to provide coal to Trump with the items shouting from the bill.
For example, the bill requires a report to Congress annually on any Russian bounty payments for US troop deaths – something that the White House has scorned.
It also puts sanctions on Turkey for its acquisition and implementation of the Russian-made S-400 anti-anti-missile system. Sanctions are required under U.S. law but the White House snubbed the rules to favor Turkey President Erdogan, a Trump friend.
It also blocks funding to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan and Germany until the Pentagon, State Department, and director of national intelligence assess how a drawdown would affect threats to the United States, among other criteria.
It also tells the Pentagon — against its wishes and that of the White House — that it plans to keep the beloved A-10 Warthog by requiring “preservation of critical close air support capabilities and force structure capacity during the fiscal year 2021” and restricting funds associated with the Secretary of Defense “until the 30-year shipbuilding plan is delivered.”
The bill also places limits on military-grade equipment sent to local police departments, such as bayonets, grenades, weaponized tracked combat vehicles, and weaponized drones. It also requires law enforcement to be trained in de-escalation and citizens’ constitutional rights.
As for the proposed weapons sale to the UAE, under the rules for all Foreign Military Sales offers, Congress has a 30-day benchmark period to act. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the potential sale on November 10, meaning the notification period will end soon.
The proposed sale is a $23 billion arms package that includes Reaper drones, 50 F-35 joint strike fighter jets, and air-to-air missiles.
A straight-up majority “no” vote will kill the sale.
The State Department released data that shows U.S. government-authorized arms exports rose 2.8% in the fiscal year ending in September, totaling $175.8 billion.
(Photo: Library of Congress)