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GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Rush Limbaugh lauds Hawley: 'This guy is the real deal' Trump told advisers he could announce 2024 bid shortly after certification of Biden win: report MORE (R-Mo.) said on Thursday that he will try to remove a requirement that the Pentagon rename bases named after Confederates from a mammoth defense policy bill.

"I will offer an amendment to undo this effort at historical revisionism. I will offer it not to celebrate the case of the Confederacy but to embrace the cause of union, our union, shared together as Americans," Hawley said from the Senate floor.

"It is time for our leaders to stop using their position here to divide us. Let us work together instead to build on the history and the responsibility that we share as Americans to continue that unfinished work of this nation," he added.

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The Senate Armed Services Committee agreed to include an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require the Pentagon to rename bases and other military assets bearing the names of Confederate leaders.

The language included in the mammoth policy bill creates a commission to come up with a plan for renaming bases and other assets. At the end of three years, the Pentagon “shall” remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederacy or anyone who served voluntarily in the Confederate army, a committee staffer said.

The decision to include the amendment in the defense bill puts lawmakers on a collision course with President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Wednesday that Trump would veto an NDAA that required renaming the bases.

Hawley told reporters on Thursday that he voted against including the amendment because he didn't think Congress should be "mandating that these be renamed and attempting to erase that part of our history as a way you deal with history." The amendment was approved behind closed doors and by a voice vote so there would not be a record of which senators opposed it in committee.

Hawley added during his floor speech that the amendment was trying to "erase from history ... every person and name and event not righteous enough and to cast those who would object as defenders of the cause of slavery."

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However, getting the language removed from the defense bill once it reaches the floor could be an uphill task. It would also, if Hawley is able to get a vote, put Republicans in a politically awkward spot of possibly voting to keep bases named after Confederate figures.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump keeps tight grip on GOP amid divisions MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said he was unaware that the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to include the amendment in its bill and that it would be hard to change it on the floor.

"Well I mean if it's in the base bill coming out of the committee then, yeah. ... Obviously it's a heavy lift if we take anything out of the bill," Thune said.

The Senate, in recent years, has struggled to hold even a handful of votes, if any at all, on amendments to the NDAA because of a stalemate on which amendments get votes.

Any one senator can block another senator from being able to bring up an amendment on the floor, which would put it in line to get a vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellImmigration, executive action top Biden preview of first 100 days Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight McConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report MORE (R-Ky.) could file cloture on an amendment, but he's given no indication he would be willing to do that for this issue.

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After a closed-door GOP lunch on Thursday, McConnell sidestepped saying if he supports the amendment.

"That will be up to the committee to decide,” he said.

Rebecca Kheel contributed.