Donald Trump presided over the coin toss before the Army-Navy football game over the weekend, standing alongside cadets and midshipmen at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. By all appearances, the president, seemingly eager to associate himself with those in uniform, neglected to mention how eager he is to veto funding for the military.
A week ago today, the White House's Office of Management and Budget formally notified lawmakers of Trump's intention to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) -- a massive, annual defense spending bill that funds the military and guides Pentagon policy. Hours later, the House passed the package anyway, 335 to 78.
A few days later, the Senate followed suit, approving the NDAA, 84 to 13, and sending the bipartisan bill to the White House.
As Vox explained yesterday, the president has come up with a new excuse to reject the legislation.
First, President Donald Trump threatened to veto the annual defense bill because lawmakers wanted the names of Confederate generals removed from US Army bases. Then, he said he'd torpedo the bipartisan legislation unless it repealed an internet free-speech law, allowing him to spew conspiracy theories on the internet unchallenged. And on Sunday, he pledged to block the bill because it's not tough enough on China, despite it having what one Democratic Congressional aide described to me as "the strongest provisions ever to address the rising power."
Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), a House Armed Services Committee member and former Army Ranger, told Vox, in reference to the president's latest nonsense, "I don't think Donald Trump knows what he's talking about."
It is, alas, a quote with broad applicability.
So, what does Trump do now, after backing himself into a corner for no reason and with no easy way out? Circling back to our earlier coverage, there are basically three ways forward:
1. Trump may back down and look weak in the last legislative fight of his presidency.
2. Trump may veto, leading Congress to override him for the first time in his presidency.
3. Trump may veto, leading to a failed override vote in Congress, at which point things will get even messier.
Roll Call added yesterday the president has until Dec. 23 to make a decision. The article added, "If Congress were to adjourn during the 10 days, the bill could get scuttled in a so-called pocket veto, but Congress is expected to take procedural steps to avoid that scenario."
Watch this space.