Some advisers urge Trump not to veto defense bill: source

FILE PHOTO: Dec 12, 2020; West Point, New York, USA; President Donald J. Trump walks on to the field before the first half of the Army-Navy game at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump is being urged by some advisers not to go ahead with his plan to veto a major defense bill because it is all but certain to be overridden by the U.S. Congress, a source familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

Trump has threatened to veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a $740-billion bill setting policy for the Department of Defense, because it does not repeal a law that protects social media companies from liability for what appears on their platforms.

The defense bill has passed both houses of the U.S. Congress by veto-proof margins, meaning any veto by Trump would likely be overridden as he faces the end of his term Jan. 20.

Some top advisers, both in and out of the White House, have privately counseled Trump not to veto the bill because he would have little to gain from a veto and it could hurt Republicans’ ability to hang on to two U.S. Senate seats from Georgia, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Jan. 5 runoff elections in Georgia will determine whether Republicans control the Senate during President-elect Joe Biden’s first two years in office. If Republicans win at least one, they will retain control but if they lose both, Democrats would have the majority.

Trump has threatened to veto the bill because it does not repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects technology companies like Alphabet Inc’s Google, Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc from liability.

Trump has until Dec. 23 to either sign it or veto it.

“He still does plan to veto the NDAA,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Tuesday.

His threats have frustrated lawmakers from both parties, who said the tech measure has nothing to do with defense. They also said Trump’s concerns about social media should not kill legislation considered essential for the Pentagon and the result of nearly a year’s work.

Reporting By Steve Holland; additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Mary Milliken and Alistair Bell