U.S. President Donald Trump vetoing the $741-billion Pentagon budget came as no surprise. For the first time in 60 years, the U.S. president vetoed a defense budget.
Trump vetoed the bill, despite a two-third majority in both chambers of Congress. Efforts by Republican leaders to persuade Trump clearly hit a brick wall.
Trump described the federal government budget that was passed by the House of Representatives as a "disgrace." Trump found the $900-billion package added to the budget insufficient for Americans reeling from the Covid-19 outbreak. Support for Trump, who wanted to increase the stimulus checks, came not from his own party, but from the Democrats with whom he is at war. Democrats' attempt to secure more direct aid was quickly blocked by Republicans.
Two of the more urgent issues on the U.S. Congress agenda on Monday are the defense and federal government budgets.
Trump did not indicate that he would veto the federal government budget bill, nor did he state that he would sign it. If he does veto the bill, millions of Americans hit hard by the pandemic will be deprived of much-needed aid. This prospect is intensely worrying Republicans.
The defense budget, which has caused a rift between Trump and his own party, is expected to be put up for a vote again at the House of Representatives on Monday. A small minority of Republican lawmakers back Trump. If the House of Representatives approves the bill by a two-third majority, it will be sent to the Senate which will vote on Tuesday. In any case, the defense budget must be approved by noon on Jan. 3. Because the newly elected House of Representatives will convene on January 3, 2021. If the bill is not voted in by noon, a brand-new defense budget will be prepared.
Tension between Trump and Congress Republicans does not stop at budget bills. The president has also been at odds with Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who conceded that Joe Biden had won the election. The final obstacle standing in the way of Biden's Presidency is the joint session of the U.S. Congress slated to be held on Jan. 6. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will preside over these sessions. Hawkish Trumpists in the House of Representatives want to take steps to deny Biden's inauguration. However, Senate Republicans do not support initiatives that are unlikely to yield results. Meanwhile, the majority of Republican voters buy Trump's claim that "Biden won the election by rigging the vote." Pence, who had time and again proven his unwavering loyalty to Trump, now finds himself in a pickle.
In addition to all of the above, both Republicans and Democrats are preparing for a "pitched battle" for two open Senate seats in the State of Georgia on Jan. 5. Both sides are massing on the Georgia front. Democratic candidates raised a total of $211 million, while Republicans secured a total of $132 million in donations. These figures are unprecedented for Senate candidates.
Long regarded as a Republican stronghold, Georgia voted for Joe Biden in the presidential elections in November. Thus, he became the first Democrat to win the state since 1992.
If the Democrats manage to win both seats in the second round of elections, the balance in the Senate will be split evenly. In the U.S., vice presidents preside over the Senate. Democrats would thus control the Senate thanks to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. If the Republicans win just one of the two seats up for grabs, they would protect their majority in the Senate with an edge of two seats.
Early voting in the second round of the Georgia Senate runoffs began on Dec. 14. Over two million votes have been cast so far. These numbers are already considered as “record-breaking” compared to previous elections.
Early voting ends on Jan. 1, and Democrats are betting on securing the votes of Blacks, Asian-Pacific Americans and Hispanics to win. They are trying to increase the voter turnout of non-Whites. Securing the votes of those who did not cast their ballots in the November elections will make all the difference this time around.
For the Biden administration, securing Democrat control over the Senate is of the utmost importance. Whoever holds the majority in the Senate, controls the government. Conservative majority in the Supreme Court is yet another check on Biden’s power. According to a popular belief that is often repeated, whoever controls the Supreme Court is in charge of the whole country.