A group of 37 Senate Democrats is urging House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders to include a provision in the annual defense policy bill that would require the names of military bases and installments that honor Confederate leaders to be renamed.
The effort, led by former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, comes less than a week after Joseph R. Biden became the presumptive president-elect. Mr. Biden has previously stated that he supports the renaming of such bases.
“The Senate and House strongly supported the inclusion of this requirement by passing their bills with overwhelming, veto-proof, bipartisan majorities,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter addressed to the Republican and Democratic leaders of both committees. “The requirement also received bipartisan support in committee markups.”
Members of the Armed Services panels are gearing up to enter late-stage negotiations for the massive $740.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act.
Both the Senate and House versions of the bill include provisions that require the Secretary of Defense to rename at least 10 military bases that honor leaders of the Confederacy. The Senate bill authorizes the changes to be implemented over a three-year period while the House would require the changes within one year of the NDAA’s passage.
Despite support for the initiative from lawmakers in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle, President Trump has threatened to veto any defense policy bill that would include the renaming provision.
The chairman of the Senate panel, Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, has reportedly made efforts to dismiss the provision from the crucial legislation behind closed doors. But the Democratic lawmakers declared that they “strongly oppose removing this provision.”
The provision has established itself to be a key sticking point in negotiations for the NDAA.
Lawmakers are preparing to return to talks next week for the bill, which sets spending targets for the Pentagon but also weighs in on a slew of defense issues, from military pay rates and racism in the ranks to veterans health care and Mr. Trump’s plan to slice the American troop presence in Germany by nearly a third.
“Renaming these bases does not disrespect our military – it honors the sacrifices and contributions of our servicemembers in a way that better reflects our nation’s diversity and values,” the lawmakers wrote. “We know who these bases were named for and why they were named. It is long past the time to correct this longstanding, historic injustice. We must not shrink from our solemn duty in his moment.”