Senator Jim Inhofe told President Trump today he’ll likely fail to get two big wishes in pending defense spending legislation, bellowing into his cellphone: “This is the only chance to get our bill passed,” a source who overheard part of their conversation tells Axios.
Why it matters: Republicans are ready to test whether Trump’s threats of vetoing the bill, which has passed every year for more than half a century, are empty.
The backstory: Inhofe leveled with Trump — over speakerphone while walking through the Senate’s Russell Building — that the bill won’t meet his demand to repeal liability protections for tech companies, or block efforts to re-title military bases named for Confederate figures.
- The White House declined to comment. Inhofe’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
What we’re hearing: Inhofe, who is leading negotiations on the National Defense Authorization Act as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, addressed “Mr. President” before making his “only chance” comment during a midday call.
- The source could not help but overhear the conversation due to the speakerphone’s volume.
The backdrop: Many Republican lawmakers tell Axios that while the tech liability element, Section 230, needs to be reformed, it doesn’t make sense to tie unrelated language to the NDAA.
- Inhofe told reporters as much on Wednesday, but said the provision “has nothing to do with the military.”
- “You can’t do it in this bill,” Inhofe said, adding that he has relayed this to Trump.
- Many also believe they have the votes to override a presidential veto, if necessary.
- Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) quote tweeted Trump’s veto threats earlier today and wrote: “I will vote to override. Because it’s really not about you.”
The bottom line: Members from both parties are eager to get this legislation passed so they can move onto a government spending bill, due by Dec. 11, and delivering coronavirus relief.