In a late session flurry of activity, Congress overrode President Donald Trump’s veto of a critical defense bill but failed to increase stimulus payments to Americans laid low by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Washington chaos was made worse than normal by the president’s back-and-forth engagement on the issue of whether $600 or $2,000 stimulus checks were the right amount. Trump entered the debate late, said he wanted $2,000 checks after the $600 level passed, then signed the $600 bill.
The flip-flop left the president’s own congressional supporters hung out to dry to the delight of Democrats. The Democratic-controlled House passed a bill to bump the stimulus up to $2,000; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shunted it aside and offered an alternative $2,000 idea that was designed to go nowhere.
So the final session of Trump’s term in office wraps up with his first veto override and his own party effectively blocking the stimulus package he wanted.
Trump was right that the $2,000 stimulus would have been better than the $600 package, although, if that was really his end goal, he should have been a bigger part of the process much sooner. Reps. Tom Cole, Frank Lucas and Kendra Horn were right to vote for the bigger stimulus package.
Trump was wrong about the National Defense Authorization Act, and we’re pleased that Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford and Reps. Lucas, Cole and Horn voted to override his veto.
Rep. Kevin Hern was wrong but consistent to vote against the bigger stimulus package, and he let his loyalty to Trump get ahead of his loyalty to the U.S. military on the NDAA vote. U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin was missing in action on the climatic vote on both issues.
In addition to giving U.S. troops a needed raise, the Inhofe-molded NDAA creates a process to rename U.S. military assets named after Confederate heroes and completes promised federal funding to the Oklahoma City Memorial.
It was a glued-together jumble of legislative wishes, which is the wrong way to do business, but certainly the Washington way. Trump objected to renaming military facilities and wanted the bill to include a provision to attack online monopolies with which he has ongoing feuds. That last issue is clearly unrelated to national security, but, leaving the president’s pique aside, quite possibly a reasonable policy step for the nation. In the end, it isn’t an issue worth holding up the remainder of the package.
An old maxim of legislative compromise is that you shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. On the NDAA, Inhofe, Lankford, Cole, Lucas and Horn seemed to understand that.
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