Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases

Senate Democrats are urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE to back down from a threat to veto a mammoth defense bill over a provision that would require the Pentagon to rename bases named after Confederate figures. 

Several Democrats — including Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Trump backs plan to give airlines another billion in aid MORE (N.Y.) and Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden VP race is highly fluid days before expected pick Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package MORE (Mass.) and Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Overnight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE (R.I.), the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee — sent a letter to Trump on Thursday saying they were "deeply troubled" by his tweet saying that he will "not even consider" renaming the bases. 

"As President and Commander-in-Chief, we urge you to stand on the right side of history and support the SASC-adopted proposal to remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederacy from bases and other property of the U.S. military," they wrote in the letter

ADVERTISEMENT

In addition to Schumer, Warren and Reed, Democratic Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani says DC policymakers need to do more to support ventures and 'solo-preneurs'; Federal unemployment benefits expire as coronavirus deal-making deadlocks Overnight Defense: Pompeo pressed on move to pull troops from Germany | Panel abruptly scraps confirmation hearing | Trump meets family of slain soldier Shaheen, Chabot call for action on new round of PPP loans MORE (N.H.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Progressives soaring after big primary night MORE (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw MORE (Hawaii), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineEx-USAID employee apologizes, denies sending explosive tweets USAID appointee alleges 'rampant anti-Christian sentiment' at agency Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal MORE (Va.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic OVERNIGHT ENERGY: 20 states sue over Trump rule limiting states from blocking pipeline projects | House Democrats add 'forever chemicals' provisions to defense bill after spiking big amendment | Lawmakers seek extension for tribes to spend stimulus money Lawmakers seek extension for tribes to spend stimulus money following Treasury delays MORE (N.M.), Gary PetersGary Charles PetersTop Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (Mich.), Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Duckworth: Republican coronavirus package would 'gut' Americans With Disabilities Act MORE (Ill.) and Doug Jones (Ala.) signed the letter. 

The Senate Armed Services Committee agreed to include an amendment from Warren 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.

But the idea has faced backlash from Trump and the White House, where press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Wednesday that Trump would veto an NDAA that required renaming the bases.

Trump added in a tweet that "monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage."

ADVERTISEMENT

"Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations," he added.

But Democrats countered in their letter that Trump had a "profound misunderstanding" of the current moment in U.S. history, where the country has been rocked by days of protests after George Floyd's death. 

"Your rejection of this proposal reflects a profound misunderstanding of this moment in our nation’s history, when Americans are demanding that we reckon with a centuries-old legacy of systemic racism and our military leaders recognize that condoning Confederate symbols undermines their mission and unit cohesion," they wrote.

They added that changing the names of the bases wouldn't disrespect the military but instead address a "long-standing harm." 

"It is long past time for the United States military to cease honoring, commemorating, or otherwise celebrating those who took up arms against the United States in the Civil War, sacrificing hundreds of thousands of American lives in order to preserve the institution of chattel slavery," they added.