President Donald Trump warned that he would veto crucial legislation that funds the military for the 2021 fiscal year, unless an amendment proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), aimed at renaming military assets named after Confederate leaders, is taken out.
Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month approved Warren’s amendment to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Senate on Tuesday voted 89–4 on a motion to proceed on the bill. As part of the debate on the Military funding bill, Warren gave a speech on the Senate floor on Monday, detailing the reason for her proposal.
Earlier in June, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that the President opposes renaming military bases and other assets and she quoted a tweet from the President.
“[M]y Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations. Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!" she read.
"These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,” Trump also tweeted.
Past efforts to rename military installations have stalled on the grounds that these places represent an American tradition but on Tuesday Warren argued that these names represent an “ugly” past and the names of “traitors” should not be honored.
While those like the President call the Confederate history, part of American tradition, Warren and the left, say the confederate names and monuments represent a history of “white supremacy.”
"Those who complain that removing the names of traitors from these bases ignores history ought to learn some history themselves. These bases were not named in the years following the Civil War. No. They were named decades and decades later, during the Jim Crow era, to strengthen a movement that tried to glorify the Confederacy and reinforce white supremacy," Warren argued.
Warren argued that the current political moment, after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in the custody of Minneapolis police, calls for “ending police brutality, once and for all. It is also about ending systemic racism."
Warren’s amendment stipulates that all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor Confederate States of America, be removed no later than three years after the date of the enactment of the bill.
Republican Senators have offered their own amendment to deal with the renaming of Confederate military assets. Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) amendment would commission a study and allow the Defense Secretary to choose which asset to rename. Cotton called Warren's amendment “too broad” and Warren said in her speech, it is not time to study the problem but to take action.
The tension between Warren’s proposal and the President's threat to veto only mimic the increased tensions over race and America’s history. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) comments on the issue reflect a partisan divide among Democrats and Republicans, which will likely make the NDAA face an uphill battle in getting passed on time.