President Donald Trump's threat to veto a defense bill if it does not repeal legal protections for social media companies faced stiff bipartisan opposition on Wednesday, setting the stage for a confrontation with lawmakers scrambling to pass the massive bill by year-end.
"Yes, the president is serious about it", McEnany suggested, when asked about Trump's threat to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill.
In a pair of tweets late Tuesday, Trump said the country can not allow Section 230 to stand.
Congressional aides said the final version of the NDAA does not include the Section 230 repeal demanded by Trump.
Senate Armed Services Chair Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., told reporters that while he supports the call for tech services reforms, the provision "has nothing to do with the military". We ought to do away with 230, but you can't do it in this bill. "That's not a part of the bill", Inhofe told reporters on Capitol Hill, adding that he made his stance clear to the president.
In a joint statement, Washington Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, the panel's top ranking Republican, noted too much is at stake with the legislation to derail efforts now.
The NDAA contains not only a pay raise for troops, but many other popular measures, like body armor improvements for women, coronavirus relief, military housing improvements and national security measures.
Republican officials have accused tech firms of censoring conservative voices and grilled Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey during congressional hearings earlier in November. President-elect Joe Biden has expressed a desire to repeal the law, a rare alignment with his campaign foe. However, the social media platforms say they are only trying to stop the spread of false claims and disinformation.
Still, lawmakers of all stripes said the defense bill is not the place to mount that fight.
"It passed out of here with 84 votes, you know, when it left the Senate", said Thune.
"My assumption is it would have broad bipartisan support as long as it didn't mess with that issue in some way", Thune said.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was serious about his veto threat and wanted to use what leverage he had to repeal the tech protection law. Months ago, Trump said he would slap a veto on the bill if a provision authored by Sen.
But on Wednesday, there was no sign of budging among critical lawmakers who are involved in crafting a final version of the bill. The president previously promised over the summer that he would veto the defense funding bill if it did not remove language requiring the renaming of United States military installations honoring Confederate generals.
"We would essentially have to come back and the new Congress, begin from scratch", Reed said, noting it could perhaps be done "quickly".
"There are real, grave concerns here and the president stands by that".