News & Politics

Trump and Congress At Odds Over Bases Named for Southern Soldiers

FILE - In this Nov. 23, 2009 file photo. the honor guard carries the casket of Fort Hood shooting victim Army Lt. Col. Juanita Warman at her burial services at Arlington National Cemetery. The Army said in a letter addressed to Congress on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015 that the victims of the 2009 shooting that left 13 dead and more than 30 wounded will receive the Purple Hearts many have said they deserve. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Donald Trump has vowed to veto any legislation that orders the removal of the names of Confederate generals currently in use on military property. This has put him on a collision course with the Democratic House, in particular, the House Armed Services Committee.

On Wednesday, the committee voted to require the Pentagon to rename military bases and other assets that have been named after Confederate personalities. The amendment is attached to a military policy bill, which will be voted on in the coming weeks.

Roll Call:

The language, adopted by voice vote as President Donald Trump preemptively threatened to veto any defense bill that did just that, affects massive bases like Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Benning in Georgia. But it also goes further and includes everything from ships to streets on Defense Department property.

Senator Elizabeth Warren got the ball rolling to rename the bases last week.

The amendment would require the Defense Department to set up a commission to develop a plan to implement the renaming, according to the source familiar with the text.

Wednesday’s scheduled White House press briefing was delayed while the administration prepared a statement expressing Trump’s opposition to renaming as many as 10 military bases, citing by name Fort Bragg and Fort Benning, as well as Fort Hood in Texas.

Just as an aside, will any consideration be given to Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee, Braxton Bragg, and James Longstreet for their heroic service in the United States Army during the Mexican War? It doesn’t matter what you think about the war, their service was outstanding. But in the scheme of things, some history can be conveniently tossed down the rabbit hole.

“The president will not be signing legislation that renames America’s forts,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in response to a question from CQ Roll Call. “Fort Bragg, for example, it’s one of the largest military installations. It’s home to tens of thousands of brave American soldiers, and when you think of Fort Bragg, we think of the brave soldiers that deployed from there.”

The effective veto threat sets up a standoff with Capitol Hill, with House Democrats likely to advance similar provisions in that chamber’s defense authorization, especially after the Senate committee action.

Trump is right not to give in to the cancel hysteria sweeping the nation. Renaming bases because some people think the generals were evil might be better discussed in calmer times. Why the rush? To prove you’re more woke than the next congressman? Those bases will be there long after the current controversies are history.

There will be plenty of opportunities to erase history later.