Donald Trump skipped one fight with Congress this week: He signed a continuing resolution to keep government open for another month. But in his morning marathon rant Friday on Fox & Friends, he refused to say whether he’d sign another bill that landed on his desk this week: the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
“We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi” of China, he said. “He’s a friend of mine. I’d like to see them work it out, ok?” He went on, “I stand with Hong Kong, I stand with freedom, I stand with all of the things that I want to do, but we are also in the process of making the largest trade deals in history.” Right. Like all the other “largest trade deals in history” that he’s said we have pending with China.
The bill requires that the U.S. government impose sanctions on China and on Hong Kong officials who are responsible for human rights abuses in Hong Kong. It would also require that the State Department conduct annual reviews of the special autonomous status it grants Hong Kong for trade. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent. Unanimous. It passed the House 417-1. The only no vote came from Rep. Thomas Massie, the House’s version of Rand Paul, who told CNN that he was fine “with 90% of that bill, but I’ve never voted for sanctions against a sovereign country.” The House also passed, unanimously, a companion bill that blocks American exports of nonlethal crowd control products to the police force in Hong Kong.
So it’s up to Trump. Side with 100% of the U.S. Congress and, of course, human rights, or with another of his favorite autocrats and veto the bill? Because unanimous is definitely a veto-proof majority.