Trump Vows To Veto Defense Bill If It Includes Provision To Remove Confederate Names From Military Bases

President Donald Trump speaks during a bill signing ceremony with his economic team in the Rose Garden at the White House on June 5, 2020. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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July 1, 2020 7:56 a.m.

President Trump vowed late Tuesday that he would veto this year’s proposed $740 billion annual defense bill if an amendment is included that would require the renaming of bases named after Confederate military leaders.

The pledge to veto the amendment came in a late night tweet reaffirming Trump’s earlier claim to “not even consider the renaming” of military bases as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. 

The president mocked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who sponsored the amendment calling her “Pocahontas” in a late night tweet that condemned the amendment which would require the renaming of 10 bases named after Confederate generals and the removal of Confederate likenesses, symbols and paraphernalia from defense facilities across the country within three years.. 

The amendment was approved in June by the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee, and represents for some a litmus test of the country’s sentiment toward adopting an anti-racist posture at a time when nationwide protests over racial injustice and police  violence continue in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in May.

Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led initiatives to remove statues and paintings of Confederate leaders and slave owners from around the Capitol. Those moves which took place in the days leading up to Juneteenth, jolted the Senate into debate as they discussed the provision to make additional efforts at removing the symbols from military facilities as proposed by Warren’s measure in the NDAA.

The president’s pledge also came hours after Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a bill to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state’s flag.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) criticizing Trump’s previous suggestion that he would veto a bill that carried a renaming requirement for military bases dared the president on Tuesday to challenge the bill.

“I dare President Trump to veto the bill over Confederate-base naming,” Schumer told  reporters during a news conference. “It’s in the bill. It has bipartisan support. It will stay in the bill.” 

Removing the amendment from this year’s NDAA is unlikely unless Trump vetoes the entire bill as opponents of the amendment are not expected to achieve anywhere close to the 60 votes needed to remove the renaming requirement from the bill.

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