Trump Threatens to Veto Military Spending Bill Over Confederate Base Names
“The bases were named during the Jim Crow South era and it wasn’t done to respect the African Americans of the South. It was to appease the Jim Crow governments of that era.”
The annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) usually is passed with minimal politicalization as it contains funding for the the American military. This year, however, US President Donald Trump is threatening to veto it over the naming of military bases. Specifically, the president is demanding the military retain the names of Confederate leaders, The Associated Press reported.
Senates Leaders Aligned Against Trump
An amendment for the NDAA was sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D–Mass., and was passed with support from both parties on the senate floor. Trump attacked Warren in a tweet, using his nickname for her.
“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!,” the president tweeted.
There are 10 Army bases that would be required to be renamed under the current draft of the NDAA, CBS News reported. Furthermore, the bill would require the Department of Defense to remove Confederate statues, symbols, and monuments by 2024.
Although Trump railed against the move to portray it as a Democrat initiative, Republican legislators are supportive of the idea as well. Among them is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R–Ky.
“I would hope the president really wouldn’t veto the bill over this issue,” McConnell said in a Fox News interview. He added that he would not lead a battle in the Senate over the issue.
McConnell’s Democratic colleague, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D–N.Y., criticized Trump’s threat as jeopardizing the salaries of American soldiers.
“Let me make a prediction,” Schumer said. “First, that provision will not change in this bill as it moves through the House and Senate. Second, let me predict President Trump will not veto a bill that contains pay raises for our troops and crucial support for our military.”
‘I Didn’t Think It Was Right’
The amendment already cleared the Senate, but a vote on the entire bill has the potential to become a partisan issue if Trump can rally GOP senators to take a stand with him. So far, that doesn’t appear likely as several Republicans came out in support of Warren’s amendment, POLITICO reported.
“It was expected,” said Sen. Mike Rounds, R–S.D., an Armed Services Committee member. “You always want to be able to show your support for our military men and women, and that’s what this is about — providing protection for them.”
Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R–Okla., however, provided a dissenting voice to the chorus of approval. He admitted the issue could become controversial and clarified that the bill is still in its infancy, but expressed dismay at Warren’s amendment, NPR reported.
“Let’s preserve our history,” Inhofe said.
In the House, similar legislation is being pushed forward. Rep. Don Bacon, R–Neb., a Marine veteran, coauthored a proposal similar to Warren’s amendment in the Senate.
“I always didn’t think it was right,” Bacon said before Trump threatened a veto. “Particularly, the bases were named during the Jim Crow South era and it wasn’t done to respect the African Americans of the South. It was to appease the Jim Crow governments of that era. So again I think to be respectful to our minority population in our country, I think it’s the right thing to do.”
BLM Movement Ripples Through Congress
That history has been increasingly called into question of late. Although the Confederacy is an indisputable part of history, however, the fact remains that the Confederate states were separatists and waged war with the union. Furthermore, the ideals behind the Confederacy have given reason for many, including the Black Lives Matter (BLM), to raise objections with statues of Confederate leaders, a majority of which were installed in the early to mid-1900’s, decades after the Civil War ended.
Trump’s threat of a veto over Confederate base names comes as BLM forces cities and states to reconsider their Confederate symbolism. His defense of the separatists also comes as his poll numbers tumble, which suggests Trump may be attempting to shore up support among his conservative base.
Last week, he signed an executive order in attempt to protect statues on federal land as he blamed: anarchists and left-wing extremists” who promote “a fringe ideology.” Destruction of federal property was already a crime and the president’s order urged prosecuting vandals with possible sentences up to 10 years in prison, CBS News reported.