The House Armed Services Committee this week voted to pass a 2021 defense authorization bill that would require the Pentagon to strip Confederate names from military bases and other property within a year — setting the bill up for a fight in the Senate and with the White House.
The amendment responsible for the language was sponsored by Reps. Anthony Brown (D-MD) and Don Bacon (R-NE), and was adopted on party lines, with Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI) being the only other Republican to vote for it.
Brown has claimed that a “vast majority of Americans” support the renaming of military bases, but an ABC News-Ipsos poll released in mid-June showed that the majority of Americans opposed changing the name of military bases named after Confederate military leaders at 56 percent against 42 percent.
The Senate Armed Services Committee last month approved a bill with their own language sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) that would require the bases to be renamed within three years.
However, some Republican senators are proposing amendments to modify that language when the bill finally hits the Senate floor later this year.
Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) have introduced an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would create a commission to study Defense Department assets that are named after or commemorate the Confederacy or anyone associated with the Confederacy.
The commission would submit a list to Congress and the defense secretary, who would decide on how to move forward on possible renaming.
“Instead of mandating the renaming of military bases, including Fort Bragg, we need a thoughtful and constructive process that includes the input of our military communities. Our amendment accomplishes that goal,” said Tillis.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has also introduced an amendment that would remove the language requiring the Defense Department to rename the bases, and instead direct a one-year commission to work with state and local stakeholders to nominate names referring to the Confederacy for removal from Defense Department installations.
The amendment is backed by Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MI), Mike Rounds (R-SD, Rick Scott (R-FL), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
President Trump earlier this week threatened to veto the defense bill if it makes it to his desk with provisions requiring the military base name changes.
I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars, is in the Bill!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2020
According to The Hill, some Senate Republicans fear being put in a politically awkward position over the defense bill, and say it is likely the defense bill will reach the president’s desk after the election in November.
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