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Blumenthal, Courtney push back against Trump's threat to veto defense policy bill

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, are among members of Congress pushing back on a last-minute threat by President Donald Trump to veto the annual defense policy bill currently under negotiation by federal lawmakers.

Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday night to say he would veto the bill, which Congress has passed for nearly six consecutive decades, if it doesn’t include a repeal of Section 230 of a 1996 federal law that protects internet companies from being held liable for material posted by their users.

Calling Section 230 “a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” Trump said, “Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand.”

“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,” he said.

Both Blumenthal and Courtney criticized Trump in statements issued Wednesday, saying Section 230 is a separate issue outside the realm of the NDAA.

“Section 230 of the federal communications code has absolutely no connection to the National Defense Authorization, or to the year-long proceedings in the House and Senate where we hammered out these bipartisan bills,” said Courtney, who was selected to be one of the U.S. House members to negotiate a final version of the bill.

“This is a debate that should occur at the Energy and Commerce Committee, not the Armed Services Committee, and it’s one that should never be used to disrupt the safety and security of our men and women in uniform,” he added.  

Calling the veto threat “deeply dangerous and just plain stupid,” Blumenthal said “Reforming Section 230 deserves its own debate — one that I’ve helped lead in Congress, and which I look forward to continuing with a more serious, thoughtful administration in January.”

Some Republicans, including Senate Armed Services Chair Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., also are speaking out. Inhofe told Politico that while he agrees with Trump on Section 230, the provision “has nothing to do with the military.”

“You can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill,” Inhofe said. He reportedly conveyed that belief to the president.

The current proposal would authorize $740 billion in national security spending in the 2021 fiscal year. House and Senate lawmakers have been negotiating differences in their two versions of the bill, and are expected to present a final version as early as Thursday.

j.bergman@theday.com

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