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House panel advances bill banning construction on bases with Confederate names

House panel advances bill banning construction on bases with Confederate names
© Greg Nash

The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced a spending bill that would prohibit military construction projects on bases named for Confederate officers.

The provision, included in the more than $250 billion military construction and veterans affairs appropriations bill for 2021, was one of a series of proposals Democrats are adding to the annual funding bills in order to target Confederate symbols.

The bill passed by a vote of 30-20, largely along party lines.

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"No service member should live or train on a base named for a person who betrayed America’s pursuit of a more perfect union," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations MORE (D-Fla.), who chairs the subcommittee that oversees Veterans Affairs.

"Fighting your own countrymen in the name of continuing the enslavement of other human beings is not an act that should be honored, and it’s beyond time for change at those military bases that do honor such individuals with their namesake," she added.

The subcommittee's top Republican, Rep. John CarterJohn Rice CarterGOP's Carter fends off challenge in Texas Cook Political Report shifts 8 more House races toward Democrats Biden, Democrats see late opportunity in Texas MORE (Texas), spoke out against the provision.

"This provision unfairly punishes the men and women in uniform," he said.

But neither he nor any other of the committee's Republicans offered amendments to remove the provision, as minority parties often do on politically controversial issues.

The sole GOP amendment brought up in the markup pertained to lifting restrictions related to President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE's border wall. Democrats have refused to refill funds for military construction projects that Trump reprogrammed toward building the wall using emergency powers.

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That amendment failed.

Support for removing Confederate imagery and symbols has gained momentum in the aftermath of widespread social protests against racial injustices and police brutality.

Trump has spoken out against efforts to remove statues, saying they represent American heritage.

The House's other funding bills also included similar provisions on removing Confederate imagery, such as the legislative affairs bill removing statues and busts of Confederate leaders from the Capitol, and the defense bill providing $1 million to rename installations, facilities, roads and streets named for Confederate leaders.

Earlier in the day, the committee approved bills covering state and foreign operations, and agriculture, the latter of which passed with unanimous support.

Updated at 6:39 p.m.