This week, the Senate is preparing to pass legislation including a plan to remove the names of Confederate leaders from military bases in the U.S. The plan to remove the Confederate names is included as an add-on to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the upcoming fiscal year, which authorizes defense spending for the year. President Donald Trump has threatened to veto the legislation when it gets to his desk if it includes the plan to remove the Confederate names, but even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who’s not exactly some kind of liberal, obviously — has objected to the president’s veto threat.
On Wednesday, the Senate was set to vote to begin closing up debate on their version of the NDAA. The Senate plan requires the removal of the names to be carried out within three years. The Democrat-led House has already passed its own version of the legislation, and their version includes a requirement for the renaming to be complete within one year. The difference is one of the issues that will have to be taken up after both chambers have passed versions of the bill and members meet to hash out differences and prepare a final copy.
So far, six amendments have been brought up for a roll-call vote amidst the Senate’s debate over their version of the NDAA, but none of them covered the included plan to remove Confederate names from military bases. While the bill was still in the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) had introduced an amendment that would have removed the requirement for the names to be removed and replaced it with the creation of a commission to simply study the situation and come up with a plan in the future. However, Hawley’s amendment was blocked.
Like the Senate as a whole, the Senate Armed Services Committee is currently led by a Republican majority. The plan to remove the Confederate names passed that committee anyway.
Trump has tweeted:
‘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!’
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
During a Fox interview, Mitch McConnell himself countered:
‘I hope the president will reconsider vetoing the entire defense bill, which includes pay raises for our troops, over a provision in there that could lead to changing the names of some of these military bases.’
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, sounded confident that Trump wouldn’t even follow through on his threat. Inhofe said:
‘We have a long time to talk about this. It will probably be November by the time it would be coming to his desk anyway, so a lot can happen between now and then, and one thing that isn’t going to happen is a veto.’
Trump seems to be trying to use his racist attachment to monuments of the Confederacy to distract observers from the failures of his presidency.