GOP chairman: Defense bill to include renaming Confederate bases, but not Section 230 repeal

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said Wednesday that President Trump is prepared to accept language regarding a plan to remove Confederate names, monuments and symbols from U.S. military installations, adding that the mammoth defense bill does not include a repeal of a tech liability shield, referred to as Section 230, despite a veto threat.

Inhofe said the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which Congress hopes to send to Trump’s desk this month, includes language passed by the Senate in July that would set up a commission to form a plan on renaming bases honoring Confederate generals and instruct the Defense secretary to implement it.

The senior Oklahoma senator, who previously told colleagues that he would attempt to change the language substantially, cast it as a victory because it would delay the stripping of commemorations to the Confederate States of America. House Democrats wanted a one-year deadline for renaming bases.

“It hasn’t changed and, quite frankly, it’s a good thing that it is there because that language would stall that for about three years, it would appoint a commission that we would have a lot of participation in,” Inhofe said of the Senate-passed language included in the final version of the defense authorization bill.

“I’m glad the language is there because that’s one way of stalling the closures and the shuffling around of the installations,” he said.

Inhofe, who spoke to Trump on Monday, said the president is “fine with that.”

“That doesn’t seem to be an issue with him. I think he’s fine with that because it’s a commission. It’s three years, so that’s better than the alternative,” Inhofe said.

Inhofe added that he discussed Section 230 with the president. Pressed on what the president’s reaction was, Inhofe demurred but added that Trump “doesn’t like 230 and I don’t like 230.”

“First of all 230 has nothing to do with the military. And I agree with his sentiments we ought to do away with 230 but you can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill,” Inhofe told reporters.

The senator spoke roughly 12 hours after Trump threatened to veto the NDAA if a repeal of 230 wasn’t included.

“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to ‘Big Tech’ (the only companies in America that have it – corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,” Trump tweeted Tuesday night.

In June, Trump declared that he would refuse to cooperate with efforts to rename military bases named after Confederate generals such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Hood in Texas.

“The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars,” Trump tweeted. “Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations. Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!”

Trump lauded the bases as “part of a Great American Heritage.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed compromise language in June to form a commission to come up with a plan for renaming bases and to implement it after three years after negotiations between Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

Republicans on the Armed Services panel, including Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), supported the language.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) strongly opposed the change in committee, and Cotton also voted against the amendment during the committee’s voice vote on the proposal.

Warren on Wednesday disputed Inhofe’s suggestion that Republicans would be able to influence the commission’s recommendations to keep some controversial names in place.

She said the language gives the secretary of Defense no leeway in removing the names of Confederate generals and similar commemorations from military installations.

“The provision is mandatory and it did reflect a compromise both within the Senate Armed Services Committee and also between the House and the Senate but make no mistake, the names of the bases that are currently honoring white supremacists, those names will be changed,” Warren said.

Updated: 10:57 p.m.

Tags Confederate base names Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren James Inhofe Joni Ernst Josh Hawley Mike Rounds National Defense Authorization Act NDAA Section 230 tech shield Tom Cotton

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