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 BrownPelosi seeks to put pressure on GOP in COVID-19 relief battle Democrats demand Esper explicitly ban Confederate flag and allow Pride, Native Nations flags Trump tweets key GOP lawmaker has committed to not changing Confederate base names 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 MitchellGOP wants more vision, policy from Trump at convention Loomer win creates bigger problem for House GOP Lisa McClain wins Michigan GOP primary in race to replace Rep. Paul Mitchell MORE (R-Mich.) crossing party lines to support it.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump was referring to an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenJudd Gregg: The Kamala threat — the Californiaization of America GOP set to release controversial Biden report Biden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 ThornberryTrump payroll-tax deferral for federal workers sparks backlash Overnight Defense: Woodward book causes new firestorm | Book says Trump lashed out at generals, told Woodward about secret weapons system | US withdrawing thousands of troops from Iraq Top Armed Services Republican 'dismayed' at Trump comments on military leaders 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.