WASHINGTON – Congress is moving toward passage this week of a massive defense policy bill that President Donald Trump has threatened to veto because it would remove the names of Confederate generals from military bases across the South. He also wants lawmakers to clamp down on social media companies he claims were biased against him during the election.
The House voted 335-78 on Tuesday in favor of the $731 billion defense measure, hours after Trump renewed his threat.
Congressional leaders vowed to move ahead on the hugely popular bill — which affirms automatic 3 percent pay raises for U.S. troops and authorizes other military programs — despite the veto threat.
The final vote represented approval from more than 80 percent of the House — well above the two-thirds support required to override a potential veto. A total of 140 Republicans joined 195 Democrats to back the bill, which now goes to the Senate.
Members of the House and Senate forged a bipartisan agreement to rename the 10 bases in the annual must-pass defense measure, and Republican leaders including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California expressed their support.
Bases in Louisiana, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama and Texas would be affected.
Here are some questions and answers about the bill:
What are the 10 military bases?
- Camp Beauregard in Louisiana
- Fort Polk in Louisiana
- Fort Benning in Georgia
- Fort Gordon in Georgia
- Fort Bragg in North Carolina
- Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia
- Fort Lee in Virginia
- Fort Pickett in Virginia
- Fort Hood in Texas
- Fort Rucker in Alabama
Why were they named for Confederate generals?
During World War I, the War Department scrambled to create more bases to train soldiers who would be shipped overseas. The Army issued a memo that laid out the groundwork for facilities in the North to be named after “Federal commanders” and facilities in the South after “Confederate commanders.”
The first Southern base in Virginia was named after Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army, which fought in the Civil War to preserve Black people’s enslavement. The last of the bases was establishment in World War II.
Who will rename them?
This is not the first time lawmakers have pushed to rename military bases or for the removal of Confederate statues. The Congressional Research Service looked into the process for renaming bases in 2017 and found that “the Department of Defense (DOD) does not have a review process to reevaluate the naming of specific installations.”
This year’s defense bill has a provision, written by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., that would establish a panel to recommend new names for the 10 bases.
“The Confederate soldiers who betrayed the United States to fight for the Confederacy were fighting for the institution of slavery,” Warren said on the Senate floor. “It is time to put the names of those leaders who fought and killed U.S. soldiers in defense of a perverted version of America where they belong, as footnotes in our history books, not plastered on our nation’s most significant military installations.”
Shortly after Warren’s amendment was added to the bill, the president tweeted his veto threat.
“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!” he wrote on Twitter on June 30.
How long would the renaming take?
If the bill is enacted, it could take up to three years for all the bases to be renamed. The Pentagon also has until that time to rename any other Confederate symbols or names on properties owned by the Department of Defense.
The Associated Press contributed to this updated report. Read the original article at the Missouri Independent.