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.
“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!” Trump wrote in a tweet Tuesday.
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.
“The defense bill we are debating today takes an important step in this direction by addressing the honors that our nation continues to bestow on Confederate officers who took up arms against the United States in the defense of chattel slavery,” Warren said. “This bill denies those honors to military leaders who killed U.S. soldiers in defense of the idea that black people are not people, but instead are property to be bought and sold.”
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.
“The President will not be signing legislation that renames America’s forts, it’s important to note, you know Fort Bragg, for example, it’s one of the largest military installations. It’s home to 10s of thousands of brave American soldiers. And when you think of Fort Bragg we think of the brave soldiers that deployed from there,” McEnany said.
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.
Schumer said Wednesday, “I dare President Trump to veto the bill over Confederate base naming. It’s in the bill, it has bipartisan support, it will stay in the bill. The WH has previously indicated Trump would veto the NDAA if it included base renaming.”