Grassley: Senate would ‘probably’ override Trump veto of defense bill amid base renaming fight

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is warning that Congress would likely override President Trump if he vetoes a mammoth defense policy bill amid the fight over a plan to rename Army bases named after Confederate figures. 

Grassley, during a call with Iowa reporters on Monday, said he hoped Trump wouldn’t veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is set to pass the Senate later this month, over the base renaming. 

“If it came to overriding a veto, we’d probably override the veto,” Grassley told Iowa reporters on a conference call this week. 

A spokesman for Grassley confirmed the remarks, which were reported by the Des Moines Register and the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

Trump has issued eight vetoes since taking over the White House in 2017. Neither the House nor Senate has been able to successfully override one.

Trump has warned that he will veto the bill, which has passed Congress for 59 consecutive years, if it includes a provision, which is currently in the Senate version, on renaming military installations named after Confederate figures. 

“I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars, is in the Bill!” Trump tweeted last week.

The Senate’s bill includes a provision that states that within three years the Defense secretary “shall implement the plan submitted by the commission … and remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America … or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America from all assets of the Department of Defense.”

The House Armed Services Committee separately voted to include a provision in its NDAA requiring the names to be changed within a year. Once the House and Senate pass their versions of the defense bill, they’ll need to hash out an agreement on a final version of the legislation. 

GOP senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), have urged Trump to back down from his veto threat of the defense bill, which isn’t expected to reach his desk until after the November election. 

“Well, I would hope the president really wouldn’t veto the bill over this issue. … I hope the president will reconsider vetoing the entire defense bill, which includes pay raises for our troops, over a provision in there that could lead to changing the names,” McConnell said last week during an interview with Fox News. 

Statues and monuments honoring the Confederacy have come under renewed criticism amid ongoing protests against racial inequality and police brutality. Trump has defended the statues as an integral part of American history and says it would dishonor the soldiers who trained at bases named after Confederate officers to rename the installations now.

Tags Chuck Grassley Confederacy Confederate base names Donald Trump Mitch McConnell National Defense Authorization Act NDAA

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