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

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump China sanctioning Rubio, Cruz in retaliatory move over Hong Kong The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Negotiators signal relief bill stuck, not dead 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.


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 TrumpDemocrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee TikTok collected data from mobile devices to track Android users: report Peterson wins Minnesota House primary in crucial swing district 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."


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 ThuneDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Trump says he'll accept nomination from either White House or Gettysburg Meadows says he wants Trump nomination speech 'miles and miles away' from White House 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 McConnellMcConnell warns control of Senate 'could go either way' in November On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks 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.


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.