Just before Christmas, President Donald Trump vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), claiming it would benefit China and Russia, and because it would change the names of a few bases away from Confederate Generals.
In reality, he just struck down a bill that increases military pay, targets our foes Russia and China, follows the military’s lead on naming bases, and limits the President’s ability to yank troops out of our allies, Germany and South Korea.
Our soldiers, sailors, and other service members are going to lose out on a three percent pay increase with Trump’s veto of the NDAA. Everyone is suffering during one of the worst economic calamities, along with the pandemic, so our armed forces personnel need all the help they can get. If you’re going to veto this pay increase, it better be done for some really good reasons. Sadly, that’s not the case.
The President was incorrect in calling it a “gift” to China and Russia. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. First of all, it will “confront the assertive Russian Navy, which has been deployed closer and closer to our East Coast,” according to Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite, as well as preparing to defend the Arctic in a similar fashion.
Moreover, the NDAA takes on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 with sanctions, and also goes after Turkish strongman Erdogan for purchasing a Russian missile defense system (S-400), sanctions that are long overdue. It also provides aid to Ukraine so that country can resist Russia. So factually, it is not a “gift” to Russia, as Trump claims.
Second of all, the bill creates a “Pacific Deterrence Initiative” with billions aimed at thwarting Chinese Communist military goals. Eric Sayers, a former GOP Senate Armed Services Committee staffer and member of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said to Vox “this is the most important and substantive NDAA on China in two decades, so the Trump Administration claim that he is vetoing because this is weak on China is bizarre.”
The bill also includes provisions supported by Army leaders and Pentagon leaders: the renaming of bases away from Confederate generals. Though Trump defended the move as honoring servicemen and women, it will allow us to rename bases away from those who fought against the United States of America. And there is no shortage of American heroes from our great legacy whose names could grace these very same bases. Those bases had those names to try and heal the wounds between the North and South, and served their purpose. Now that the Civil War is long over, and nobody of consequence supports secession, it’s time to have them named for non-secessionists. Give those heroes who served the United States of America after the Civil War a chance to have a base named in their honor now.
Then there’s something known as Section 230, which President Donald Trump wanted repealed so he can get even with social media companies, members of the free market, who freely chose to provide warning labels on disinformation. Even those who think Section 230 should be repealed, like arch-conservative Jim Inhofe, a GOP Senator from Oklahoma, this tiff over Trump’s wounded pride is not an excuse to end nearly 60 years of NDAA becoming law and denying what’s needed by our troops, over a matter unrelated to national defense, when another piece of legislation not tied to our defense could do the job, without affecting our armed forces.
The good news is that the House and Senate passed the NDAA 2021 by very wide margins. Even though House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, seeks to stand with Trump, there should be enough GOP and Democratic votes to override this veto, and do the right thing for the troops, instead of denying them raises over base names and social media spats.