US President Trump's veto of the bill that he calls a "gift" to China and Russia raises the possibility the measure will fail to become law for the first time in 60 years.

President Trump has vetoed eight bills previously, but those vetoes were sustained because supporters didn't gain two-thirds vote needed in each chamber for bill to become law without Trump's signature.
President Trump has vetoed eight bills previously, but those vetoes were sustained because supporters didn't gain two-thirds vote needed in each chamber for bill to become law without Trump's signature. (AFP)

US President Donald Trump has vetoed the $740 billion annual defence bill, following through on threats to veto a measure that has broad bipartisan support in Congress and potentially setting up the first override vote of his presidency.

The bill affirms 3 percent pay raises for US troops and authorises more than $740 billion in military programmes and construction.

Long before issuing the veto, Trump offered a series of rationales for rejecting it. 

He called for lawmakers to include limits on social media companies he claimed are biased against him — and to strip out language that allows for the renaming of military bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood that honour Confederate leaders. 

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the chamber will vote on December 28 on whether to override Trump's veto of the bill.

Pelosi said in a statement that Trump's veto of the bill was "an act of staggering recklessness that harms our troops" and endangers American national security.

READ MORE: US Senate passes defence bill despite Trump's veto threat

'Gift to China and Russia'

Without going into detail, Trump has claimed the biggest winner from the defence bill would be Russia and China.

In his veto message to the House, Trump cited those objections and stated that the measure "fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military's history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions. It is a 'gift' to China and Russia."

Both the House and Senate passed the measure by margins large enough to override a veto from the president. 

Trump had vetoed eight bills previously, but those vetoes were sustained because supporters did not gain the two-thirds vote needed in each chamber for the bill to become law without Trump’s signature.

In advance of the veto, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, said the bill would help deter Chinese aggression. 

Other GOP backers of the measure, including Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Senate leader, and Republican Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, tweeted that the bill would counter threats from countries such as China.

READ MORE: US House gives $500 million to Israel, only $600 per person in covid relief

Trump 'hasn't read the bill'

Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Trump’s declaration that China was the biggest winner in the defence bill was false. Reed also noted the shifting explanations Trump had given for the veto.

"President Trump clearly hasn't read the bill, nor does he understand what’s in it," Reed said. 

"There are several bipartisan provisions in here that get tougher on China than the Trump Administration has ever been."

Pentagon's defence policy

The measure guides Pentagon policy and cement decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals. 

Many programmes can only go into effect if the bill is approved, including military construction.

McConnell, in a rare break with Trump, had urged passage despite Trump's threat to veto it. 

McConnell said it was important for Congress to continue its nearly six-decade-long streak of passing the defence policy bill.

READ MORE: Will Congress change its perception of Turkey?

Source: AP