Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have voted to override President Donald Trump's veto of a defense spending bill that would provide a big boost to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
The House voted 322 to 87 Monday night to override President Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, or the NDAA. The $732 billion bill sets spending and policy for the 2021 fiscal year.
The U.S. Senate is expected to follow suit this week.
The bill includes several provisions South Jersey lawmakers have touted as big wins for Burlington County's largest employer, the Joint Base.
Among those wins include a 3% pay raise for all military personnel, slowing down of the retirement of KC-10 tankers jets over the next three years to ensure their replacement, the KC-46 tanker jets, arrive 100% ready to go at the end of 2021, and authorizing two constructions projects on the base.
“This bill is too important for our country and for our community. Our service members at the Joint Base will now get the raise they deserve, and our Joint Base will see new construction and continued progress on missions that will keep it strong for years to come. I hope as we enter a new Congress, that we can continue to put aside partisanship and do what’s right for our troops," said U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, in a statement on Monday.
Trump followed through on Dec. 23 with his threats to veto the bill after it did not include provisions to repeal Section 230, or end protections for internet companies that shield them from being held liable for material posted by their users.
Trump also took issue with provisions in the bill that would result in changing the name of military bases named after Confederate soldiers.
U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1 of Camden, called the Trump's veto "shameful."
“This veto shows that Trump clearly doesn’t care about our servicemembers and their families. Congress voted overwhelmingly to provide our men and women in uniform with a long-overdue pay raise, hazard pay and child care help that Trump is now preventing," Norcross said in a statement. “There is no room for any symbols of hate or bigotry on our military bases, but the President continues to support the Confederates that fought against America to keep people in chains. It’s just plain racist and wrong.”
Burlington County Democrats sent a letter to Kim, Norcross, and U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker on Monday supporting their pledge to vote to override the President.
"We were so disappointed to learn of President Trump’s decision to veto this year’s Defense Authorization Act. His action threatens the base and is an insult to the more than 40,000 service members and civilian defense employees who serve there," the letter read.
The letter was signed by the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders, as well as state Sens. Troy Singleton and Dawn Addiego, Assemblyman Herb Conaway and Assemblywoman Carol Murphy.
The NDAA ensures 24 KC-46s will arrive at the base in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021. In November, construction officials on the base celebrated the steel-topping of a brand new $53 million hangar for the incoming aircraft.
It also authorizes $37 million total for construction projects on the base — $22 million for a Munitions Storage Area and $15 million for a National Guard Readiness Center — and provides pay equity for the U.S. National Guard and Reserve, increasing service members pay by as much as $1,200.
Sixty percent of service members at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst are in the National Guard or Reserve.