Senate Adopts Defense Bill Renaming Military Bases With Confederate Names

July 23, 2020 Updated: July 23, 2020

The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which besides authorizing $740 billion for defense programs, also requires renaming U.S. military bases bearing the names of Confederate generals.

The bill passed by 86-14 along bipartisan lines, clearing a two-thirds threshold needed to overcome a potential veto, which President Donald Trump threatened to do over an amendment renaming military assets named after Confederate leaders.

The amendment, proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called for a ban of the Confederate flag on military property—including living quarters, vehicles, and clothing. It also includes a plan to change the names of bases such as Fort Bragg and Fort Benning, which honor men who fought against U.S. troops 155 years ago during the Civil War.

The White House said in a statement on Tuesday (pdf) that Trump would veto the legislation if it contained provisions requiring renaming of bases.

“Over the years, these locations have taken on significance to the American story and those who have helped write it that far transcends their namesakes,” the statement said.

“The Administration respects the legacy of the millions of American servicemen and women who have served with honor at these military bases, and who from these locations have fought and died in two World Wars, Vietnam, the War on Terror, and other conflicts,” the statement said, warning that the drive to rename military assets would go further, claiming that it “is part of a sustained effort to erase from the history of the Nation those who do not meet an ever-shifting standard of conduct.”

The White House said in the statement that the move to rename is part of a chorus of “loud voices in America” which are calling for the “destruction or renaming of monuments and memorials to former Presidents.”

“President Trump has been clear in his opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to rewrite history and to displace the enduring legacy of the American Revolution with a new left-wing cultural revolution,” the White House stated.

U.S. President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters while hosting Republican Congressional leaders and members of his cabinet in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on July 20, 2020. (Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

Trump said earlier this month on Twitter that his 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,” Trump said.

Last month, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said they were open to discussing renaming 10 military installations that now honor Confederate figures, but under the NDAA bill as it now stands, this is a requirement.

In commenting on the bill, some Republican Senators focused on the merits of its technical provisions, with Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, saying in a statement that the NDAA “will maintain America’s dominance in a dangerous world.”

“It also reinforces our deterrent against an emboldened China and Russia. The bill includes legislation I’ve championed to expand U.S. sanctions on companies involved in installing Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline,” Barrasso said. “These sanctions will help stop this pipeline and eliminate this Russian geopolitical weapon.”

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said in a post on Twitter that, “This bipartisan #NDAA signals to our nation’s heroes in the Armed Forces that the country has their back as they defend our republic against the throes of ongoing threats by authoritarian regimes.”

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