Alaska’s congressional delegation contributed to the first veto override of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan both voted Friday to override Trump’s veto of a defense spending bill. Rep. Don Young voted to override the veto in the House on Dec. 28, setting up the Senate’s New Year’s Day action.
The 81-13 vote in the Senate followed an earlier 322-87 override vote in the House of the widely popular defense measure. The bill affirms a 3% pay raise for U.S. troops and guides defense policy, cementing decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, personnel policy and other military goals.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said before the vote that Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act every year for 59 years in a row, and would complete the 60th annual NDAA and pass it into law before Congress concludes Sunday.
“The FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act is significant for three important reasons,” Sullivan said in a statement. “First, this bill continues the build-up of the U.S. military both across the globe and in our state, authorizing more than $150 million in construction projects and critical jobs for hard-working Alaskans, as well as a much-needed pay raise for our military members. Second, from the creation of a Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies to again authorizing six polar class icebreakers, the FY 2021 NDAA clearly cements Alaska as the center of gravity for America’s economic and security interests in the Arctic region. Finally, and for the first time ever, this year’s defense bill includes the U.S. Coast Guard authorization, much of which my team and I drafted. The inclusion of this bill in the NDAA sends a clear message to the brave men and women of our nation’s fifth military branch — the Coast Guard — that they are an integral and vital part of our nation’s military.”
Sullivan previously characterized Trump’s veto as surprising last week during a news conference and said he would vote to override the veto. Murkowski also criticized the veto.
Murkowski, Sullivan and Young all previously voted for the National Defense Authorization Act.
“Earlier this month, I voted in favor of the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which passed both chambers of Congress with large bipartisan majorities,” Murkowski said in a statement. “Today, I again voted to support the NDAA because it is absolutely the right thing to do for our men and women in uniform as well as the incredible nation they serve and protect,” said Senator Murkowski. “The NDAA will not only ensure our military forces are equipped to defend our national interests, but will also provide much-needed security to our military members, their families, and America’s veterans during particularly uncertain times. The President’s veto of this bill was unrelated to supporting our military and it’s wrong to hold them hostage for issues that can better be addressed by separate legislation. I’m proud to show my continued support for America’s brave men and women in uniform and encouraged that this bill will finally be enacted into law.”
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt. Reporting from The Associated Press contributed to this article.