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Murkowski calls Trump veto of defense bill a ‘disservice’ to military; Sullivan will vote to override the veto

  • Author: Alex DeMarban
  • Updated: December 24, 2020
  • Published December 24, 2020

Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan at the Glenn Massay Theater in Palmer on Aug. 4, 2016. (Loren Holmes / ADN archive)

Alaska’s U.S. senators do not support President Donald Trump’s veto of the massive 2021 defense bill that the congressional delegation supported and praised earlier this month, according to statements Thursday.

Both the U.S. House and Senate approved the $740 billion measure with veto-proof majorities, with Rep. Don Young and Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan voting for it. The House is expected to meet for a potential veto override on Monday, according to news accounts. If the House overrides the veto with a two-thirds vote, the measure would head to the Senate for a possible override.

“It’s incredible that the president chose to veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act, particularly because his reason for doing so is an issue not related to national defense,” Murkowski said in a prepared statement Thursday. “Congress has passed a defense authorization bill for 60 years, which emphasizes the priority.”

“This is a disservice to military members, their families, and our nation,” Murkowski said. “It is pivotal that this bill becomes law so that our service members, their families and veterans receive the support they have earned and our military forces are fully equipped to defend our national interests.”

Trump vetoed the bill on Wednesday, calling it a “gift” to China and Russia that lacks critical national security measures, according to his veto message to the House. He said a section that “facilitates the spread of foreign disinformation online” must be repealed. He expressed displeasure with other items, including language that allows for the renaming of military bases named after Confederate generals.

Sullivan does not support the veto, according to spokeswoman Amanda Coyne.

“If it comes to the Senate, he will vote to override the president’s veto,” she said Thursday.

Sullivan, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, was quoted in the Juneau Empire on Thursday saying the bill is not perfect, but he was surprised by the president’s veto.

“The (act) has some things in it that I would not have preferred to have in it, but overall, it was a really strong bill not just for Alaska but for the country,” Sullivan was quoted as saying.

Young’s office could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The Alaska delegation voted for and praised the measure earlier this month, highlighting its 3% military pay raise and benefits in Alaska including support for new icebreakers, more than $150 million in military construction funds and an effort to develop an Arctic security studies center that could be built in Alaska.

Trump’s veto comes amid a tumultuous time in Washington, D.C., after the president also signaled that he might not sign off on a bipartisan $900 billion stimulus and spending bill that includes a boost to unemployment assistance, $600 stimulus checks and other COVID-19 relief measures. Trump expressed concerns that the bill doesn’t provide enough direct aid to Americans and allows for wasteful spending, but his call for $2,000 stimulus checks was rejected by House Republicans on Thursday.