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UPDATE: Flat Top Rd. back open after downed power lines

UPDATE (6/21 @ 8:45 p.m.) – According to the Ghent Volunteer Fire Department, Flat Top Rd. is back open.


GHENT, WV (WOAY) – The roadway in the area of Ghent Elementary is shut down until further notice.

Beckley-Raleigh County Emergency Services says there is a large tree, with power lines down blocking the road.

Ghent Fire Dept. is on scene, and AEP is on the way.  Authorities suggest using an alternate route for now.

UPDATE: Lewisburg lifts boil water advisory

UPDATE (6/19): LEWISBURG, WV (WOAY) – The city of Lewisburg has lifted its boil water advisory.

This includes water systems in the areas of Renick, Maxwelton, Frankford, Fairlea, Caldwell and Lewisburg.

Residents are asked to flush their personal lines until the water runs clear.
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LEWISBURG, WV (WOAY) – The city of Lewisburg recently had to undergo a boil water advisory for the entire town’s water system due to high levels of turbidity in the water, which is the state of the water being cloudy and unclear. But the issue is now well on its way to being resolved.

“We’ve been able to maintain the levels within the guidelines at the water plant, so yesterday afternoon we started flushing the system,” says city manager of Lewisburg, Misty Hill. “We have to flush all of the water lines and check the levels throughout the lines to make sure we’re in compliance.”

While the city is currently working to bring the levels down to match the level complying with the guidelines, there’s a little more waiting that must be done before the boil water advisory can be lifted.

“Once the water plant gets those levels and are within those guidelines, we do a final sample for the lab to go out, and the lab will check for the bacteria in the water, the turbidity, and all the levels then, and after that is when we can get the boil water advisory to be lifted,” she says.

The city plans to have the problem fixed and the water back on as early as Saturday, but it could also be as late as next Tuesday, it just depends on how quickly the water can get back to the right safety level. In the meantime, the mayor urges residents to continue to do what they’ve already been doing.

“They really need to continue boiling their water with the guidelines put in the paper and on our Facebook page,” says Mayor Beverly White. “Today is a holiday, but we chose to open City Hall to let our citizens know that we are here for them and we’re working really hard to correct this situation.”

A tank of fresh water is currently available at Fire Station #2, route 219 North Jefferson Street, where residents of Lewisburg can go get water free of charge until the situation is fully resolved.

Search crews recover possible drowning victim in Fayette County

GLEN JEAN, WV (WOAY) – The body of a possible drowning victim is recovered in the Glen Jean area of Fayette County.

Search and rescue personnel recovered the body of 25-year old Rudolpho “Rudy” Cerda, from Beckley, WV, around 1:30 pm on Monday.

National Park Service (NPS) rangers, personnel from West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR), West Virginia State Police (WVSP), Fayette and Raleigh County Sheriff’s Departments,  Beckley Police Department, and trained volunteer search and rescue divers from the Beaver Dive Team had been searching for Cerda since Saturday afternoon when he disappeared below the Thurmond area of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.

Cerda had been last seen around 3:00 pm on Saturday. He and two other individuals were searching for an access to fish the river when Cerda stumbled and fell down a rocky riverbank and came to rest in the shallows of the water.  The two individuals returned to get fishing gear and, upon arriving back to the river, discovered Cerda’s shirt and cell phone onshore close to where he had been sitting. Cerda was not wearing a life jacket and the river was muddy and at above average water levels for early summer.

Park personnel began a hasty search on land and river that afternoon and into the evening, and continued early Sunday morning and into Monday, with other agencies joining on Sunday and Monday. A helicopter search was conducted by WVSP and FCSO on Sunday, and RCSO staff brought in a dog team to assist in a ground search. Local commercial rafting companies were also alerted. The body was discovered Monday afternoon by a commercial rafting company guide below the Cunard river access approximately six miles downriver from where last seen.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Mr. Cerda,” said New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Superintendent Lizzie Watts. “Events like this are tragic.”

This is the first drowning in the park this year, serving as a reminder that New River is a high-volume river with swift currents, deep holes, and a rocky bottom. Water levels can change daily and conditions in even familiar areas can change quickly. Personal flotation devices (PFDs), or life jackets, are essential safety items and should be worn anytime people are in or around the water, including in a boat. For more tips on water safety while in the park, visit www.nps.gov/neri/planyourvisit/water-safety.htm.

UPDATE: Man identified in fatal Raleigh County mine incident

NAOMA , WV (WCHS) – One person has died after an incident Thursday morning at a Raleigh County mine.

Mine section foreman Nicholas David Adkins, 43, was originally injured after a 9 a.m. accident at the Horse Creek Eagle Mine on Horse Creek Road.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Labor said the death occurred after an incident.

Raleigh County Dispatchers said a shuttle car struck Adkins underground.

Whitesville Ambulance and Fire, Regional Command and West Virginia OES responded, but have since cleared the scene.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration is conducting an investigation, the spokesperson said.

“This second tragedy in as many days is a terrible blow to all West Virginians and to our mining community,” said West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice in a statement. “Please pray for this man and his loved ones, and for all of our miners and their families, just as Cathy and I continue to do everyday.”

Two ATV accidents leave multiple people injured in Fayette County

MEADOW RIVER, WV (WOAY) – Two ATV accidents leave multiple people injured in Fayette County.

On Monday night, first responders were dispatched to an ATV accident under the Meadow River Bridge. One patient was flown to Charleston due to injuries sustained, according to Fayette County Sheriff Mike Fridley.

A short time later, another accident was reported in the same area. This time, two ATV occupants were flown to Charleston due to injuries sustained. The people involved in both accidents were of the same group.

Members of the Ansted, Nuttall, Wilderness, and Summersville Fire Departments, along with several EMS personnel and the Nicholas County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene.

If you have any information regarding this incident, contact the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department at 304-574-3590, or through our Facebook page “Fayette County Sheriff’s Department,” or you can contact Crime Stoppers of West Virginia at 304-255-STOP.

This incident remains under investigation by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department.

5 people transported to hospital in two-vehicle accident in Beckley

BECKLEY WV, (WOAY) – Five people are transported to the hospital following a two-vehicle MVA near Route 19 and Crossroads Mall in Beckley.

Dispatchers responded to a 3:57 p.m. call.

The Bradley Fire Department, Mount Hope Fire Department, Jan Care and the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department were all on scene.

Dispatchers say the area is clear and traffic is now flowing freely

Bomb threat at Rainelle Kroger remains under investigation

RAINELLE, WV (WOAY) – Investigators are currently investigating a bomb threat made at a grocery store in Greenbrier County.

On Tuesday, May 25, at around 6 p.m., the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office and West Virginia State Police responded to a 911 call of a bomb threat that had been received at the Rainelle Kroger.

The officers evacuated the store and surrounding properties, as well as the parking lot. Explosive K-9 handlers and bomb technicians responded to the scene.

The store and ground were searched, and no explosives or foreign objects were located on the property.

This incident remains under investigation. It is not believed to be connected to an incident at a Sam Black gas station earlier in the day involving a suspicious package.

CDC to ease up guidance on indoor mask-wearing

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a striking move to send the country back toward pre-pandemic life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday moved to ease indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places.

The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

The CDC will also no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds. The announcement comes as the CDC and the Biden administration have faced pressure to ease restrictions on fully vaccinated people — people who are two weeks past their last required COVID-19 vaccine dose — in part to highlight the benefits of getting the shot.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, announced the new guidance on Thursday afternoon at a White House briefing, saying the long-awaited change is thanks to millions of people getting vaccinated — and based on the latest science about how well those shots are working.

The new guidance comes as the aggressive U.S. vaccination campaign begins to pay off. U.S. virus cases are at their lowest rate since September, deaths are at their lowest point since last April and the test positivity rate is at the lowest point since the pandemic began.

To date about 154 million Americans, more than 46% of the population, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines and more than 117 million are fully vaccinated. The rate of new vaccinations has slowed in recent weeks, but with the authorization Wednesday of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12-15, a new burst of doses is expected in the coming days.

Just two weeks ago, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks indoors in all settings and outdoors in large crowds.

During a virtual meeting Tuesday on vaccinations with a bipartisan group of governors, President Joe Biden appeared to acknowledge that his administration had to do more to model the benefits of vaccination.

“I would like to say that we have fully vaccinated people; we should start acting like it,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, told Biden. “And that’s a big motivation get the unvaccinated to want to to get vaccinated.”

“Good point,” Biden responded. He added, “we’re going to be moving on that in the next little bit.”

The easing guidance could open the door to confusion, as there is no surefire way for businesses or others to distinguish between those fully vaccinated and those who are not.

Walensky said the evidence from the U.S. and Israel shows the vaccines are as strongly protective in real-world use as they were in earlier studies, and that so far they continue to work even though some worrying mutated versions of the virus are spreading.

The more people continue to get vaccinated, the faster infections will drop — and the harder it will be for the virus to mutate enough to escape vaccines, she stressed, urging everyone 12 and older who’s not yet vaccinated to sign up.

And while some people still get COVID-19 despite vaccination, Walensky said that’s rare and cited evidence that those infections tend to be milder, shorter and harder to spread to others. If someone who’s vaccinated does develop COVID-19 symptoms, they should immediately re-mask and get tested, she said.

There are some caveats. Walensky encouraged people who have weak immune systems, such as from organ transplants or cancer treatment, to talk with their doctors before shedding their masks. That’s because of continued uncertainty about whether the vaccines can rev up a weakened immune system as well as they do normal, healthy ones.

Beckley City Council unanimously passes the Crown Act

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – The Beckley City Council unanimously passes the Crown Act.

The ordinance was developed to address discrimination against natural hairstyles and unfair treatment for the way people wear their hair. It was presented to the City of Beckley a couple of months ago and many people have been coming forth to share their own stories about hair discrimination ever since.

After a request to enter the city council chamber to voice their concerns over the matter one on one was denied due to COVID-19 concerns, supporters of the ordinance took to the lawn outside the city hall to voice their stories that they feel must be told.

“It’s exciting to say the very least,” says Dr. Kristi Dumas, a human rights commissioner. “I think the original nondiscrimination order was very exciting and propelled the city in the right direction. And what this does is just expand on those protections and respect for persons, and we couldn’t be happier about it.”

Fatal Car Crash Shuts Down Roads in Wyoming County

MABEN, WV (WOAY) – One person is dead after a two-vehicle accident on Lester Highway in Wyoming County.

In addition to the fatality, two others were transported to Raleigh General Hospital where they are currently being treated.

Raleigh County dispatchers received a call around 9:20 a.m. on Friday, May 7, 2021.  The accident occurred near the county line between Raleigh and Wyoming counties.

Police tells WOAY roads off Lester Highway in that area are also closed and will be for a couple of hours. It is unclear what caused the accident.

UPDATE: Suspect arrested in the death of Dwayne Richardson

UPDATE (5/5 at 4:30 p.m.) -Beckley PD has sent the following information.

On Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 9:24 p.m., officer from the Beckley Police Department were dispatched to a shooting in the 500 Block of Terrill Street.  Officers along with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) who were responding to the shooting were flagged down on S. Fayette Street at Truman Avenue by a vehicle whose occupants were transporting the victim to the hospital.  Officers observed the victim, identified as DWAYNE MARQUETTE RICHARDSON JR. suffering from a single gunshot wound to his chest area.  EMS immediately began providing life saving measures while transporting the victim to Raleigh General Hospital.  The victim was flown by helicopter to a Charleston Area Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

An investigation conducted by the Beckley Police Department Detective Bureau revealed that the victim had been present at 509 Terrill Street with a group of acquaintances prior to the shooting.  Initial interviews of these individuals provided conflicting information pertaining to both the location of the shooting incident and the circumstances surrounding the victim being shot.  Based on these conflicting statements and physical evidence discovered outside of the residence, detectives obtained a search warrant for the residence located at 509 Terrill Street.  During the subsequent search, numerous items of physical evidence were documented and seized for future analysis.

Additional interviews were conducted on May 3rd and May 4th, to include the interview of JERIAMYAH JACOB FORTNER.  As a result of these interviews and the investigative findings; it was determined that FORTNER inadvertently shot RICHARDSON while recklessly handling an AR-15 rifle.  On May 5, 2021 warrants were obtained for FORTNER.

On May 5, 2021 at 3:40 p.m., FORTNER, accompanied by his attorney turned himself in to members of the Beckley Police Department.  FORTNER was processed and then transported to the Southern Regional Jail pending his initial arraignment.”


UPDATE (5/3 at 11:15 a.m.) – Beckley PD has sent out the following information regarding the shooting in Beckley last night.

The Beckley Police Department is investigating the shooting death of an eighteen-year-old male, identified as DWAYNE MARQUETTE RICHARDSON JR. that occurred in Beckley at approximately 9:24 p.m. last night in the 500 Block of Terrill Street.

Officers along with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) who were responding to the shooting were flagged down on S. Fayette Street at Truman Avenue by a vehicle whose occupants were transporting the victim to the hospital.

Officers observed the victim was suffering from a single gunshot wound to his chest area.

EMS immediately began providing life saving measures while transporting the victim to Raleigh General Hospital.  The victim was flown by helicopter to a Charleston Area Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries

The Beckley Police Department is asking anyone with information on this incident to contact Crime Stoppers of WV via their free P3 Tips app or Detective Cpl. Stewart at 304-256-1708.  Cash rewards will be paid for information leading to an arrest in this incident.


BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – An 18-year-old Woodrow Wilson High School student and basketball player was fatally shot on Sunday, May 2.

Beckley Police said the shooting occurred at 9:24 p.m. on the 500 block of Terrill St. near South Fayette St.

According to police, EMS transported the male victim, who suffered a single shot to the chest.  He was transported to Raleigh General Hospital and then to Charleston where he succumbed to his injuries.

There were no other injuries reported. Police say they are currently investigating what led up to the shooting.

Stay with WOAY for further details. 

Man dead after silo collapse at former Hobet mine site in Boone County

BOONE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – A 73-year-old man has died after a silo collapsed at the former Hobet mine site in Boone County.

According to WCHS-TV, firefighters said James Simpkins was killed in the collapse, according to the Danville Volunteer Fire Department.

Multiple crews have been at the collapse site for hours after Simpkins was reported to be trapped.

Members of the Danville and Madison fire departments, Boone County Ambulance and Boone Emergency Management are currently on scene.

Firefighters are not sure what caused the silo to collapse.

BREAKING: West Virginia to lose a congressional seat

WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – West Virginia will lose a congressional seat prior to the 2022 midterm election.

The U.S. Census Bureau announcing California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania will also lose seats.

Texas will gain two seats in Congress, while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain one.

The new numbers represent a decrease in population growth compared to the growth between 2000 and 2010.  The total U.S. population has topped 331 million people.

SPRUCE UP WEST VIRGINIA’S HIGHWAYS

Volunteers are needed to help spruce up the state’s highways this weekend. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection says since the program started in 1988, nearly 70,000 miles of state highways and roads have been cleaned in annual spring and fall Adopt-A-Highway events. The state Division of Highways co-sponsors the program. The Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan administers the program, which encourages public involvement in getting rid of highway litter.

Prince Philip dies at 99

OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) –  Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh and the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, died Friday. He was 99.

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” the palace said. “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”

The Duke of Edinburgh was known as one of the hardest-working members of the royal family during his tenure alongside the country’s longest-reigning monarch. Philip married then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and fulfilled thousands of royal duties.

Holding vaccine clinics for people of color

LEWISBURG, WV (WOAY) – We know that COVID-19 affects everyone differently, but more studies are showing how it can specifically affect different minorities.

Research is increasingly showing that COVID-19 doesn’t just disproportionately affect older people, but there are race and ethnicity disparities behind the virus, as well. African Americans, Indigenous people, and people of color can be affected by COVID in more detrimental ways than other groups of people, studies show.

“COVID has hit everyone very definitely, but in the African American community, we are twice as likely to catch COVID, and three times more likely to die from it,” Loretta Young, coordinator for RaceMatters says.

And, along with the disproportionate affects the virus has had on these certain groups of people, there has also been an increased amount of hesitancy among them to receive the vaccine. But, as the pandemic continues, these views are changing.

“I’ve seen that shift,” says James Patterson, CEO of the Partnership of African American Churches. “I don’t think there’s a lot of hesitancy now, and that’s because the amount of time that this pandemic has gone on, as well as the devastation that it has caused in communities of color.”

So, fortunately, as more information becomes available pertaining to these disproportions in race from the virus, along with the hesitancy behind getting the vaccine, more effort is being made to combat and prevent these issues. And, most people are all for making this effort.

“It’s a blessing that the lord made way for us to be able to get our shot today. And, I just want to say, that if anyone doesn’t want to take the shot, COVID-19 is absolutely for real,” says one vaccine clinic patient, Clinton Winkfield.

People of color vaccine clinic held in Lewisburg

LEWISBURG, WV (WOAY) – In an effort to combat disproportionate affects from the virus in communities of color, Race Matters in the Greenbriar Valley has coordinated with the Partnership of African American Churches to bring vaccine clinics specifically to these communities. One of the clinics was held on Saturday at the Klingman Center in Lewisburg, and was met with a positive response from the community.

“With the year, well almost over a year, experience that not just our community, but all the communities have had in our country, I really feel like this is the light at the end of the tunnel,” says clinic patient Colette Lewis.
Race Matters and the PAAC plan to organize more Black, Indigenous and people of color COVID-19  vaccination clinics throughout the state.

House votes to impeach, Trump becomes only president impeached twice

WASHINGTON, D.C. (ABCNEWS)- The House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Trump — making Trump the only president in American history to be impeached twice.

Ten Republicans have sided with Democrats to vote for impeachment with the count currently standing at 225-194.

217 votes were needed to impeach the president.

House lawmakers charged Trump with one article of impeachment for “incitement of insurrection” citing his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has declined to yet say publicly when the House will send the article over to the Senate, a source involved in the Democratic leadership deliberations told ABC News earlier Wednesday Pelosi plans to send the article to the Senate next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office confirmed earlier in the day that the Senate will not return early for an impeachment trial, so the earliest the trial could start is Jan. 19 — a day before Biden’s inauguration.

Delegate Derrick Evans announces resignation from House of Delegates

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY)- Delegate Derrick Evans, R-Wayne, today announced his resignation from the West Virginia House of Delegates, effective immediately.  

 “The past few days have certainly been a difficult time for my family, colleagues and myself, so I feel it’s best at this point to resign my seat in the House and focus on my personal situation and those I love,” Delegate Evans said.  

 “I take full responsibility for my actions, and deeply regret any hurt, pain or embarrassment I may have caused my family, friends, constituents and fellow West Virginians. I hope this action I take today can remove any cloud of distraction from the state Legislature, so my colleagues can get to work in earnest building a brighter future for our state. And more importantly, I hope it helps to begin the healing process, so we can all move forward and come together as ‘One Nation, Under God.’”  

 A copy of Evans’ resignation letter can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/3nBidTy  

Education head DeVos quits, cites Trump rhetoric

WASHINGTON (AP)- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has become the second Cabinet secretary to resign a day after a pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In a resignation letter Thursday, DeVos blamed President Donald Trump for inflaming tensions in the violent assault on the seat of the nation’s democracy. She says, “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao tendered her resignation earlier Thursday. News of DeVos’ resignation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

In a farewell letter to Congress earlier this week, DeVos urged lawmakers to reject policies supported by President-elect Joe Biden, and to protect Trump administration policies that Biden has promised to eliminate.

Woman shot inside Capitol during riot has died

WASHINGTON (AP)-A woman who was shot inside the U.S. Capitol during the violent pro-Trump protest has died.

That’s according to two officials familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

The Metropolitan Police Department said it was taking the lead on the shooting investigation. Police did not immediately provide details about the circumstances of the shooting.

Dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump breached the security perimeter and entered the Capitol as Congress was meeting, expected to vote and affirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. They were seen fighting with officers both inside the building and outside.

Hours later, police had declared the Capitol was secured.

Capitol complex secure after violent occupation

WASHINGTON (AP)- Officials have declared the U.S. Capitol complex “secure” after heavily armed police moved to end a nearly four-hour violent occupation by supporters of President Donald Trump.

An announcement saying “the Capitol is secure” rang out Wednesday evening inside a secure location for officials of the House. Lawmakers applauded.

The occupation interrupted Congress’ Electoral College count that will formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s upcoming inauguration on Jan. 20.

Lawmakers were evacuated to secure locations around the Capitol complex and Washington, D.C. after thousands of Trump supporters breached the building and skirmished with police officers.

Lawmakers have signaled that they would resume the constitutionally mandated count as soon as it was safe to do so.

Virginia declares State of Emergency

ARLINGTON, VA (WOAY)- Governor Ralph Northam has announced on Twitter that a State of Emergency has been declared in Virginia. 

The State of Emergency will be in effect from 6PM to 6AM, with limited exceptions.

Nancy Pelosi reelected speaker of the House

WASHINGTON (AP)-Nancy Pelosi was narrowly reelected Sunday as speaker, giving her the reins of Democrats’ slender House majority as President-elect Joe Biden sets a challenging course of producing legislation to tackle the pandemic, revive the economy and address other party priorities.

The California Democrat, who has led her party in the House since 2003 and is the only woman to be speaker, had been widely expected to retain her post. Rep. Kevin McCarthy R-Calif., again will be the chamber’s minority leader.

To gain her victory, Pelosi had to overcome some Democratic grumbling about her longevity, a slim 222-211 edge over Republicans after the November election, and a handful of absences because of the coronavirus.

There are two vacancies in the 435-member House, and whatever happens Democrats will have the smallest House majority in two decades.

In a first, Congress overrides Trump veto of defense bill

WASHINGTON (AP)- Congress has overridden President Donald Trump’s veto of a defense policy bill, a first by lawmakers since he took office nearly four years ago.

In an extraordinary New Year’s Day session, the Republican-controlled Senate easily turned aside the veto, dismissing Trump’s objections to the $74 billion bill and handing him a stinging rebuke just weeks before his term ends.

Trump lashed out at GOP lawmakers on Twitter, charging earlier this week that “Weak an tired Republicans ‘leadership’ will allow the bad defense bill to pass.”

Trump called the looming override vote a “disgraceful act of cowardice and total submission by weak people to Big Tech. Negotiate a better Bill, or get better leaders NOW!”

The 81-13 vote in the Senate followed an earlier 322-87 override in the House of the widely popular defense measure. The bill provides a 3% pay raise for U.S. troops and guides defense policy, cementing decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, personnel policy and other military goals. Many programs, including military construction, can only go into effect if the bill is approved.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell, R-Ky., said before the vote that Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act every year for 59 years in a row, “and one way of another, we are going to complete the 60th annual NDAA and pass it into law before this Congress concludes on Sunday.”

The bill “looks after our brave men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform,″ McConnell said. “But it’s also a tremendous opportunity: to direct our national security priorities to reflect the resolve of the American people and the evolving threats to their safety, at home and abroad. It’s our chance to ensure we keep pace with competitors like Russia and China.″

The Senate override was delayed after Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., objected to moving ahead until McConnell allowed a vote on a Trump-backed plan to increase COVID-19 relief payments to $2,000. McConnel did not allow that vote; instead he used his parliamentary power to set a vote limiting debate on the defense measure, overcoming a filibuster threat by Sanders and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

Without a bipartisan agreement, a vote on the bill could have been delayed until Saturday night. Lawmakers, however, agreed to an immediate roll call Friday once the filibuster threat was stopped.

Trump rejected the defense measure last week, saying it failed to limit social media companies he claimed were biased against him during his failed reelection campaign. Trump also opposed language that allows for the renaming of military bases that honor Confederate leaders.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was “disappointed” with Trump’s veto and called the bill “absolutely vital to our national security and our troops.″

“This is the most important bill we have,″ Inhofe said. “It puts members of the military first.″

Trump has succeeded throughout his four-year term in enforcing party discipline in Congress, with few Republicans willing to publicly oppose him. The bipartisan overrides on the defense bill showed the limits of Trump’s influence in the final weeks of his term.

Earlier this week, 130 House Republicans voted against the Trump-backed COVID relief checks, with many arguing they were unnecessary and would increase the federal budget deficit.

The Democratic-controlled House approved the larger payments, but the plan is dead in the Senate, another sign of Trump’s fading hold over Congress.

Besides his concerns about social media and military base names, Trump also said the defense bill restricted his ability to conduct foreign policy, “particularly my efforts to bring our troops home.″ Trump was referring to provisions in the bill that impose conditions on his plan to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan and Germany. The measures require the Pentagon to submit reports certifying that the proposed withdrawals would not jeopardize U.S. national security.

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

Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called Trump’s Dec. 23 veto a “parting gift” to Russian President Vladimir Putin “and a lump of coal for our troops. Donald Trump is showing more devotion to Confederate base names than to the men and women who defend our nation.″

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