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Sen. Tim Scott staying neutral for now on renaming military bases

Sen. Tim Scott staying neutral for now on renaming military bases
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Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Virus relief bill headed for weekend vote Sole GOP vote on House police reform bill says he 'accidentally pressed the wrong voting button' House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act MORE (S.C.), the only African American Republican in the Senate, isn’t taking a position yet on whether to rename U.S. military bases named after Confederate generals.

Scott, who is taking the lead in drafting GOP legislation responding to the death of George Floyd and other African Americans killed by law enforcement, said the police reform bill is his top focus now.

“I haven’t given it much thought. I’ve certainly seen the reports of it all but ultimately I’ve been focusing on the police reform and no need to answer questions I haven’t given full thought to,” he said. 

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“What I’ve learned is that the devil is always in the details,” he added, explaining that going with first “instincts” in responding to a tricky policy question “doesn’t always produce the best results.”

The question of removing the names of Confederate generals from military installations such as Ft. Bragg in North Carolina, Ft. Hood in Texas, or Camp Beauregard in Louisiana has become a hot topic in the Senate since Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSenate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike Philly city council calls on Biden to 'cancel all student loan debt' in first 100 days Hillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case MORE (D-Mass.) added an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week doing just that.

Earlier this week Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Former Trump Defense chief Esper to join McCain Institute CORRECTED: Overnight Defense: COVID-19 stymies effort to study sexual assault at military academies | Biden, Saudi king speak ahead of Khashoggi report MORE and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyAlarming threat prompts early exit, underscoring security fears Five takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing DC Guard chief agrees 'optics' slowed deployment during Capitol riot MORE said they were open to renaming the bases but on Wednesday Trump came out strongly against the idea and threatened to veto the NDAA if it included such a requirement.

Senate Republicans are split on the question, which makes Scott’s voice on the subject a potential game changer.

Some senators such as Sens. Mike RoundsMike RoundsSenate braces for 'God-awful,' 'stupid' session ahead of COVID-19 relief vote Indigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland Powell pushes back on GOP inflation fears MORE (R-S.D.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDemocratic centrists flex power on Biden legislation Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Romney's TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors' benefits MORE (R-Utah) say they support changing base names — for Romney, in at least in some cases — while others are skeptical.

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyDeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Chamber of Commerce clarifies stance on lawmakers who voted against election certification Crenshaw pours cold water on 2024 White House bid: 'Something will emerge' MORE (R-Mo.) took a strong stand against Warren’s amendment.

“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,” Hawley tweeted on Thursday.