Why Is Trump Threatening America’s Defense Budget?

Why Is Trump Threatening America’s Defense Budget?

The president is pushing against a law that digital rights groups say protect social media firms.

Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump is sticking to his habit of blowing up careful policy negotiations even in the waning days of his administration—this time over recent labels on Twitter and other platforms flagging his claims of election fraud as unproven. In a Tuesday night missive delivered via Twitter itself, the lame duck U.S. president threatened to veto the Department of Defense’s massive annual $740 billion defense authorization bill if it doesn’t include a repeal of a decades-old law protecting social media companies from legal liability over how they enforce perceived content violations on their platforms. 

“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to ‘Big Tech’ (the only companies in America that have it – corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday evening, as negotiations between the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate reached a critical stage. “Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand.”

Both chambers of Congress appear eager to move forward with the bill despite the veto threat, which was Trump’s second warning that he could nix the bill after he tangled with Congress and members of his own administration, including former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, over language that would rename U.S. military installations named after Confederate generals, which is set to be included in the final bill. But tech experts worry that changes to the law could forever change the direction of free speech on the internet.