Upcoming veto override vote to put spotlight on Perdue and Loeffler

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Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are likely to be under a microscope during the upcoming Senate vote to override President Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The two Republican senators from Georgia both voted for the NDAA initially. But Trump has come out aggressively this week against the veto override just ahead of a planned Trump rally for Perdue and Loeffler on Jan. 4, the eve of their contentious runoff elections. 

"Weak and tired Republican 'leadership' will allow the bad Defense Bill to pass," Trump said in a pair of tweets. 

He continued: "Say goodbye to VITAL Section 230 termination, your National Monuments, Forts (names!) and Treasures (inserted by Elizabeth "Pocahontas" Warren), 5G, and our great soldiers… being removed and brought home from foreign lands who do NOTHING for us. A disgraceful act of cowardice and total submission by weak people to Big Tech. Negotiate a better Bill, or get better leaders, NOW! Senate should not approve NDAA until fixed!!!"

The NDAA previously passed overwhelmingly in both the House and the Senate but Trump refused to sign it into law. Trump most specifically objected to a provision renaming U.S. military bases named after Confederates. He also said he would not sign the NDAA without a repeal of the controversial Section 230 liability protections for online platforms. 

The House voted overwhelmingly to override Trump's veto on Monday. And on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came out forcefully in favor of the Senate following suit. 

"For the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces, failure is not an option. So when it is our turn in Congress to have their backs, failure is not an option here either," McConnell said in floor remarks. "I urge my colleagues to support this legislation one more time when we vote tomorrow."

McConnell's effort to schedule a vote for Wednesday was stymied by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., over Sanders' demands that the Senate fast-track a vote on $2,000 stimulus checks. 

This will merely delay McConnell's effort and likely set up a vote to end debate on the veto override for Friday and a final vote on the actual override on Saturday. 

That's when Perdue and Loeffler will be faced with a choice of whether to stay with their initial vote or to switch and oppose the veto override, potentially avoiding Trump's Twitter ire, which he directed repeatedly toward fellow Republicans in recent weeks though sparing the two Georgia senators. 

Perdue and Loeffler could also simply choose to stay in Georgia. 

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The NDAA passed 84-13 on its initial vote in the Senate. Therefore, even if Perdue and Loeffler are absent from the vote and some GOP senators vote against the override in solidarity with Trump, it is almost certain to get more than the two-thirds threshold needed to become law. 

Republican candidates for U.S. Senate Sen. Kelly Loeffler, left, and Sen. David Perdue wait to speak at a campaign rally on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Cumming, Ga. The Senate will vote to override President Trump’s veto of the NDAA in the coming days. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Representatives for Perdue's and Loeffler's campaigns and Senate offices did not return requests for comment on how they plan to vote on the NDAA veto override. 

The two Republican senators have already moved to side with Trump on his demands for $2,000 stimulus checks this week. Both said Tuesday on Fox News that they support that demand. 

McConnell himself included $2,000 stimulus checks in a bill introduced Tuesday that also would address Section 230 and create a committee in the Election Assistance Commission to study election integrity. 

Perdue said Wednesday he supports that bill. 

"The Democrats themselves held this up for months and so here in the last minute, they're complaining about the normal operation of the Senate," Perdue said. "I'm an outsider of this process, but I can tell you these things that Mitch McConnell is trying to do are in line with what the president has said. I support what the president is trying to do relative to Section 230, the repeal of that and also the $2,000 stimulus checks. We're in full support of that."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the McConnell bill is a "cynical gambit." It's not clear McConnell, who controls floor traffic in the Senate, will bring his bill or the House bill on $2,000 stimulus checks, which passed with more than a two-thirds majority, up for a vote in the few days remaining in the current Congress. 

But he will have to bring the NDAA veto override up for a vote to prevent Congress from needing to completely restart the legislative process on the massive defense authorization bill, and that will put Perdue and Loeffler on the spot.  

Fox News' Chad Pergram and Jason Donner contributed to this report. 

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