House Armed Services votes to make Pentagon rename Confederate-named bases in a year

House Armed Services votes to make Pentagon rename Confederate-named bases in a year
© Getty Images

The House Armed Services Committee has approved an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would require the Pentagon to strip Confederate names from bases and other property within one year.

The amendment, offered by Reps. Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownLawmakers move to oust extremists from military Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack Democrats to levy fines on maskless lawmakers on House floor MORE (D-Md.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.), was approved 33-23 as the committee considers its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The vote fell largely along party lines, with just Bacon and Rep. Paul MitchellPaul MitchellUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting Juan Williams: The GOP's betrayal of America MORE (R-Mich.) crossing party lines to support it.


“A vast majority of Americans support this, a vast majority of members of Congress support this, and a vast majority of senior leadership, both civilian and military, at the Department of Defense and the service components seek this change,” Brown said. “We’re grappling with the country’s painful past and must acknowledge that the history and cause of the Confederacy is centered on slavery and oppression. Highly visible instances of racial violence and racism have underscored the immediate need for change.”

The committee vote comes after President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney: 'Pretty sure' Trump would win 2024 GOP nomination if he ran for president Pence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee Trump says 'no doubt' Tiger Woods will be back after accident MORE threatened to veto the NDAA if it includes a requirement to rename bases.

“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 late Tuesday night.


Trump was referring to an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenYellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill Hillicon Valley: Google lifting ban on political ads | DHS taking steps on cybersecurity | Controversy over TV 'misinformation rumor mills' MORE (D-Mass.), that is in the Senate’s version of the NDAA. Warren's amendment, which was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee in a voice vote, would require the bases be renamed within three years.

The debate over Confederate symbols and names has been reignited amid nationwide protests on racial injustices sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.

The Army has 10 bases named for Confederate military generals and a colonel. The service said last month it was open to renaming the bases, but days later Trump said he would “not even consider” doing so.

In addition to requiring military property be renamed in a year, the Brown-Bacon amendment would require the Pentagon to identify which properties to rename within 60 days.


It would also require a report within 90 days on the process the Pentagon will use to choose new names, an explanation of whether the Pentagon will create an advisory panel to guide the process, a description of how it will get public input on the names, and a timeline for the renaming consistent with the one-year deadline.

The committee also shot down an amendment from Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world Senate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the committee, that would have softened the Brown-Bacon amendment by extending the timeline to two years and given community boards the ability to opt out of changing names, among other differences. The committee voted largely along party lines, 23-33 against Thornberry’s proposal.

Thornberry argued his amendment would have allowed for greater local input on the issue.

“There's been a lot of good that has come in recent weeks from a greater focus and increased understanding of lingering racial bias in this country,” Thornberry said. “Because we're in the lawmaking business we tend to first turn to legal mandates. And sometimes that's necessary, but sometimes rather than just decide ourselves and dictate to the country, if we can prod discussion, if we can encourage that sort of self examination, it’s going to have deeper and longer lasting effects.”

Updated at 11:25 p.m.