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Courting a potential presidential veto, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee voted on Wednesday to require the Pentagon to change the names of any military base named after a Confederate general.
Lawmakers approved the amendment, introduced by failed 2020 Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, to the National Defense Authorization Act by voice vote during a closed-door meeting.
The panel apparently has yet to make an official statement, however, although Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced that he voted against it. “I opposed this amendment, spoke against it, and voted no in the committee. Congress should not be mandating renaming of our bases and military installations,” he tweeted.
“The bases, which are in Southern states, are Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Polk, Fort Pickett, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard,” The Hill detailed.
If the amendment becomes law, the Defense Department has three years to implement the name changes pursuant to a plan developed by a commission to be appointed to work out the details.
Warren, who took advantage of affirmative action during her university teaching career by claiming that she was Native American based on family folklore, wrote on Tuesday that “it’s long past time to end the tribute to white supremacy on our military installations.”
An article in The Atlantic by Ret. Gen. David Petraeus apparently was influential in Warren’s thinking.
U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) chairs the committee which has a Republican majority and is currently considering defense spending appropriations for the 2021 fiscal year.
“The language…affects massive bases like Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Benning in Georgia. But it also goes further and includes everything from ships to streets on Defense Department property,” Roll Call explained.
President Donald Trump is already on record via Twitter in opposing the military installation nomenclature switch because he says it would disrespect military tradition, including those heroes who trained at the bases.
“It has been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our Legendary Military Bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc. These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom. The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my 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!”
Military leaders such as Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy have indicated support for the renaming effort, however.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany reaffirmed the president’s opposition to the effort to the point of a veto, which be unusual for any commander in chief when it comes to a defense spending bill.
“He does … fervently stand against the renaming of our forts, these great American fortresses where literally some of these men and women who lost their lives, as they went out to Europe and Afghanistan and Iraq, and all across this world, to win world wars on behalf of freedom, a lot of times the very last place they saw was one of these forts.
“The president will not be signing legislation that renames America’s forts. Fort Bragg, for example, it’s one of the largest military installations. It’s home to tens of thousands of brave American soldiers, and when you think of Fort Bragg, we think of the brave soldiers that deployed from there.”
In a reference to Fort Bragg (named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg) where she noted the first African-American parachute division trained, McEnany added that “We’ve got to honor what has happened there, not rename it.”
Reasonable people can agree or disagree about whether the Senate panel’s vote amounts to erasing (good or bad) history or being responsive to sensitivities in the extreme emotionalism of the moment. Obviously, election-year politics is also in play, particularly since this unfortunately will give Trump’s many foes more “ammunition” in this symbolic dispute.
There is also a question of how much the name changes will cost the taxpayer.
Parenthetically, the Senate has confirmed Trump appointee Gen. Charles Brown as U.S. Air Force chief of staff, the U.S. military’s first African-American service chief.
Although left-wing Twitter had its typical reaction, others registered a dissenting opinion.
@USSenate – if you are changing names of military bases what about the names of Senate buildings, and House buildings. Rayburn, Russell . . .
— Steve Sears (@sm_sears) June 11, 2020
If this was such an important issue, why didn’t you guys during the Obama administration do something about it? … at one time you had The House, The Senate and the White House. You could’ve renamed as many military bases as you wanted to…
— Ken Leopold, DDS (@uscdds1996) June 11, 2020
The only situations Republicans in Senate seem to be monitoring are their bank accounts! They surrendered to Anarchists today in Voting to rename our military bases! It was a gutless, terrible move!😡
— Lisa ❤️s America 🇺🇸⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@LisaSmith4680) June 11, 2020
Do I want the renaming of military bases that were of Confederates, yeah. However, before either party gets high and mighty on this, a reminder that the DNC and GOP have been in charge of the House, Senate & White House before and didn't do it. Point, should of been done sooner.
— Donald Frederick (@eagleland006) June 10, 2020
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