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Trump tweets key GOP lawmaker has committed to not changing Confederate base names

Trump tweets key GOP lawmaker has committed to not changing Confederate base names
© Bonnie Cash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE said Friday a key Republican senator has committed to ensuring a requirement to rename Confederate-named military bases is stripped from the annual defense policy bill, even though the fate of that requirement is now in the hands of bipartisan negotiators.

“I spoke to highly respected (Chairman) Senator @JimInhofe, who has informed me that he WILL NOT be changing the names of our great Military Bases and Forts, places from which we won two World Wars (and more!),” Trump tweeted, referring to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.).

“Like me, Jim is not a believer in ‘Cancel Culture,’ ” Trump added.

Asked for more information about the conversation, a spokeswoman for Inhofe told The Hill in an email that the “tweet speaks for itself!” The spokeswoman did not return a follow-up request for clarity on what Inhofe said to Trump.

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In an interview with his home state newspaper published Friday, Inhofe vowed to remove the provision.

“We’re going to see to it that provision doesn’t survive the bill,” Inhofe told the Oklahoman. “I’m not going to say how at this point.”

Both the House and Senate this week passed versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require the Pentagon to rename bases and other property that are named after Confederate leaders. The Senate bill would require changes in three years, while the House bill would force changes in one year.

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The House and Senate now must form a conference committee to work out differences between the two versions of the bill. Because both versions include a requirement to rename bases, it is seen as highly unlikely to be taken out of the bill.

Trump has threatened to veto the NDAA if the final version that reaches his desk requires name changes, with the White House saying in a statement this week the provision is “part of a sustained effort to erase from the history of the Nation those who do not meet an ever-shifting standard of conduct.”

Both bills passed their respective chambers with the more than two-thirds approval needed to override a presidential veto, though it’s possible Republicans could change their votes to uphold a veto.

Asked how Inhofe assured Trump he would able to remove the language when the NDAA passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she would "leave that" to the senator to work out.

“I’ll leave that to Sen. Inhofe as to how that works legislatively speaking, but the president was assured by Sen. Inhofe that that would be changing and the Republicans stood with the president on this," McEnany said. 

As Armed Services Committee chairman, Inhofe will be a key negotiator in the final version of the bill. He has previously expressed opposition to renaming bases and indicated he would work to water down the language in the conference negotiations.

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But the requirement had bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, and Democrats are unlikely to back down.

“I will strenuously resist any attempt by Sen. Inhofe or any other Republican doing the President Trump’s bidding to delay, weaken or eliminate our bipartisan efforts to remove the names of traitorous leaders from military property during the conference committee process,” Rep. Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownHouse Democrats back slower timeline for changing Confederate base names OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Esper reportedly working with lawmakers to strip Confederate names from bases | Enemy attacks in Afghanistan jump by 50 percent, watchdog says | Fort Hood soldier arrested, charged in Chelsea Cheatham killing Esper, amid resignation talk, reportedly working with lawmakers to strip Confederate names from bases MORE (D-Md.), who sponsored the House language with Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), said in a statement Friday.

“I dare the president to veto legislation that pays our troops more and makes critical investments in our national security over his race-baiting obsession with preserving the Confederacy,” Brown added.

Talks are also expected to extend past November’s election, the results of which could shape how negotiations turn out.

Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report, which was updated at 2:01 p.m.