REUTERS

The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to override President Donald Trump's veto on a defense policy bill that would provide, among other things, financial aid to Ukraine and sanctions on companies involved in the construction of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Read alsoTrump vetoes Defense Authorization Act for 2021 with US$250 mln in aid for Ukraine's army"The Democrat-controlled chamber voted 322-87 to override the veto of the bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA defines the policy for the U.S. Department of Defense and has passed every year in the last five decades," Deutsche Welle (DW) reported on December 29.

The Senate is expected to vote on Tuesday as the veto will need to be overridden by both chambers of Congress.

Trump, as promised, blocked the bill last week.

He said it did not repeal Section 230, a federal law that provides liability protection to internet companies, which he claims were biased against him during his failed reelection bid.

The president also opposed the bill over a plan that would strip several U.S. military bases of the names of generals who fought for the secessionist, pro-slavery states in the 1861-65 U.S. civil war.

The defense bill for 2021 provides for military assistance to Ukraine worth US$250 million. It also tightens sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 or TurkSteam construction projects.

Nord Stream 2: Background

  • The Nord Stream 2 project envisages the construction and operation of two gas pipeline branches with a total throughput capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. It should connect Russia's Ust-Lug and Germany's Greifswald. This new pipeline bypassing Ukraine is to be built next to the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
  • The construction of the pipeline was expected to be completed before the end of 2019.
  • The pipeline will be 1,220 km long. The project is being implemented by Russia's Gazprom in alliance with European companies – ENGIE, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall. Ukraine stands against the construction of Nord Stream 2 as it will most likely lose its status of a gas transit country, while its potential revenue losses are estimated at US$3 billion annually. The project is also highly criticized by the U.S., Poland, and the Baltic States.
  • According to media reports, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden intends to do his best to prevent the construction of Nord Stream 2.
  • On November 4, 2020, the media reported that Congress wants to expand sanctions against Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream.
  • On December 4, 2020, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he doubted that the U.S. position on Nord Stream 2 would change after Joe Biden's inauguration.
  • On December 6, 2020, United States Charge d'Affaires to Germany Robin Quinville called on the EU and Germany to declare a moratorium on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
  • On December 9, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the 2021 NDAA with expanded restrictions against the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.