Trump Vows To Veto Bill Targeting Military Bases Named After Confederate Leaders


The White House is threatening to veto a massive defense policy bill over a provision that would rename military bases such as Fort Bragg that are named after Confederate officers.

The veto threat came hours before the House voted Tuesday on the $741 billion annual defense authorization, a sprawling, bipartisan bill that includes a 3 percent pay raise for U.S. troops.

The House approved the bill 295-125, sending it to the Senate, where lawmakers are considering a similar measure.

The White House issued a 13-page statement expressing “serious concerns” about multiple provisions of the bill, including the renaming of some military institutions and limitations on the use of funds for Afghanistan.

If the bill were presented to President Donald Trump in its current form, “his senior advisors would recommend that he veto it,” the White House said.

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Trump threatened a veto earlier this month, tweeting that the measure would lead to the renaming “Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars.”

Trump has previously expressed opposition to the renaming of bases named after Confederate leaders and has defended the Confederate flag. He has described the bases named for Confederate leaders as a part of American history.

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The statement released Tuesday describes the language in the bill as “part of a sustained effort to erase from the history of the Nation those who do not meet an ever-shifting standard of conduct,” referring to ongoing efforts to rename or topple Confederate monuments and memorials.

“President Trump has been clear in his opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to rewrite history and to displace the enduring legacy of the American Revolution with a new left-wing cultural revolution,” according to the statement by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Ten Army bases are named for Confederate military officers, including Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.

The Senate’s top Democrat, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, defied Trump on the base names.

“It’s in the bill. It has bipartisan support. It will stay in the bill,” Schumer said earlier this month, referring to a Senate version that also includes the renaming provision.

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Congress has approved the annual defense measure every year for almost six decades, though various controversies often mean that it does not pass until late in the year.

The bill creates a Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund, directing $1 billion to efforts to prepare for and respond to future pandemics.

It also requires designation of an assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy, charged with supervising Pentagon policies to develop and maintain the nation’s defense industrial base.

The bill also prevents the use of Pentagon funds to reduce U.S. forces stationed in Germany and elsewhere in Europe below levels present in June, unless the defense secretary and joint chiefs of staff certify six months in advance that the reduction would not negatively affect U.S. and allied security.

The bill fully funds the European Deterrence Initiative and provides billions of dollars for submarine and anti-submarine warfare capabilities that enhance deterrence against Russia.

It also provides $250 million to support Ukraine and extends a ban on funding for any activity that would recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea.

The bill includes a host of non-defense items, including environmental measures pushed by Democrats to protect the Grand Canyon and wilderness areas in three states.

The bill also provides up to $10,000 in debt relief to millions of private student loan borrowers, including thousands of service members and veterans.

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