- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2020

Sen. Jack Reed, the leading Democrat of the Armed Services Committee, on Friday said President Trump is “out of touch” as he continues to reject bipartisan efforts to rename military bases that honor Confederate leaders.

Mr. Reed of Rhode Island said in a statement that Mr. Trump’s consistent pushback to the renaming efforts is not supported “from the American people and our military.”

“President Trump is out of touch and doesn’t seem to grasp the strong and bipartisan support for dropping the names of white supremacist Confederate officers from bases,” Mr. Reed, the ranking member on the panel, said. “Congress is establishing a thoughtful process that includes local input from our troops, citizens, and the community.”

Both the House and Senate this week approved separate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act that each include a provision to rename the 12 military bases that are named after Confederate leaders.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly threatened to veto the must-pass legislation if the final version includes language to mandate the change, arguing that casting Confederate figures and symbols as racist is absurd, given that the sites have served as key training grounds for soldiers who went on to fight in World War II and other conflicts.

He tweeted earlier Friday that he spoke with Mr. Reed’s Republican counterpart, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who allegedly promised to not change the names of the bases. The committee, of which Mr. Inhofe chairs, earlier this year approved the provision in its first version of the bill.

Mr. Reed said he is hopeful that the president “will prioritize national security and the needs of today’s servicemen and women over his wrong-headed campaign to fuel division and discord.”

Both pieces of legislation will now be negotiated on by members of both the House and Senate to form the final version of the bill. Mr. Reed said that he is “confident we’ll send the President a strong bipartisan defense bill that puts America’s security and our troops and their families first.”

Mr. Reed explained that Congress has the power to override the president’s veto, which is rare, but he said that “rarer still is an American president who would put the interests of a handful of pro-slavery Confederates above the well-being and national security of the entire nation.”

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