Kelly Loeffler Repeatedly Dodges Fox Host's Questions on Trump NDAA Veto

Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Georgia Republican, repeatedly deflected and refused to answer when she was pressed during a Fox News interview Sunday over whether she supported Congress' bipartisan decision to override President Donald Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Loeffler, along with GOP Senator David Perdue, is in the middle of a tense runoff campaign in Georgia that will determine whether Republicans or Democrats narrowly control the Senate in the 117th Congress. The election will be held on January 5, with polls showing that the twin Senate races are both very close, with none of the candidates having a clear advantage.

Trump has campaigned for Loeffler and Perdue, but neither senator attended the Friday vote to override Trump's December 23 veto of the NDAA. Perdue's absence was expected, as he was quarantining with his wife due to a possible exposure to COVID-19.

During an interview with Fox News Sunday hosted by anchor Bret Baier, Loeffler avoided answering when confronted over her personal views on the NDAA and Trump's veto. Loeffler and Perdue both voted in favor of the NDAA when it passed with broad bipartisan support in early December.

Kelly Loeffler
GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia repeatedly dodged questions Sunday on whether she backed overriding President Donald Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act. Here she speaks during a rally with Trump in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5 ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty

"Why didn't you vote in the veto override Friday in the Senate?" Baier asked Loeffler, noting that many analysts believed Trump had put her in a difficult position. Turning out the president's base is considered crucial for her to defeat Democratic opponent Raphael Warnock.

"Well, look, I've stood with the president 100 percent of the time. He's putting America first. He's fought for our men and women in the military," the senator responded, but she did not answer Baier's question. She then pivoted to tout her campaign in Georgia and criticized Democrats and Warnock.

"The campaigning is important, and you're saying how important the election is on January 5th, but obviously Georgia's a big defense state. Current and former military here. Defense business here. How would you have voted if you had voted on that veto override?" Baier asked.

Loeffler noted that she'd voted to support the original legislation, but did not say how she would have voted on the override. "I don't know. I was here in Georgia working across the state," she said.

Baier again pushed the question. "Right, but you would have sustained the president's veto on the NDAA?"

Loeffler again did not answer the question. "Look, what's at stake here is our military and our freedoms. Those are what's on the ballot right now," she said.

"I won't belabor it, but that's not a yes or no whether you would sustain the veto or not," Baier summarized.

"That's right," Loeffler responded.

Newsweek reached out to a press representative for Loeffler for further comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Trump had long threatened to veto the NDAA, despite the legislation being backed by a significant bipartisan majority of lawmakers. The president was opposed to the legislation—which will keep the military funded and provide raises to troops—in part because it includes a provision ordering the Pentagon to rename military bases named after Confederate military figures.

The Confederacy was a failed rebellion against the U.S. in the 1860s that sought to tear apart the U.S. through the Civil War in order to preserve slavery in the South. Confederate leaders were traitors, and many lawmakers and ordinary Americans have questioned why the U.S. military has bases named after some of them.

Trump also wanted lawmakers to include a measure to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which tech companies have used as legal protection. Although a number of Democrats and Republicans have been critical of Section 230, lawmakers were largely uninterested in addressing the unrelated issue alongside military spending.

The override of Trump's veto was expected, as the NDAA passed with veto-proof bipartisan majorities. Although some GOP lawmakers chose not to vote to override the president's veto, the effort to do so still succeeded in the House and Senate last week, meaning the legislation has been approved despite Trump's effort to derail it.