Posted on November 27, 2020

Trump Set on Veto of Defense Bill over Renaming Bases Honoring Confederates

Carol E. Lee et al., NBC News, November 23, 2020

President Donald Trump is threatening to veto legislation to fund the military as one of his final acts in office unless a widely supported, bipartisan provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate military leaders is removed, according to White House, defense and congressional sources.

Since the Nov. 3 election, Trump has privately told Republican lawmakers that he won’t back down from his position during the campaign that he would veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act if it includes an amendment to rename the bases.


Trump’s stance has put in doubt legislation that had been agreed to by Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate. {snip}

While some Republicans are now shifting their positions to align with Trump, Democrats are refusing to budge on the agreed-to amendment, threatening passage of the legislation.

The effort to change the names of military bases honoring Confederate military leaders has been a target for Trump for months. It was among the disagreements he had with his former defense secretary, Mark Esper, who was quietly working with Congress to codify the renaming of bases in the bill before Trump fired him this month.

The pressure from Trump has increased as members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees have begun formal negotiations to work out the differences in the legislative bodies’ respective bills.


But the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., indicated that he’s gotten the message from Trump, and he called it a “big issue” of contention in negotiations with Democrats.

“Only the president can say whether or not there’s any room for a negotiation,” Inhofe said, adding that he doubts that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would put legislation up for a vote on the floor “that has a veto on it.”


Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., chair of the House Armed Services Committee, who is leading negotiations with Republicans, said the issue could derail the whole bill, which has passed every year for 59 straight years, a rarity in a polarized Congress.


After his inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden, who released a statement supporting the name changes in June, could issue an executive order to change the names, and the changes would likely be implemented faster than any legislation could implement them, a defense official said.


If Trump vetoes the bill and a new version isn’t passed and signed before the 116th Congress adjourns Jan. 3, the next Congress will have to start from scratch.