GOP-led panel moves to remove federal names from military assets amid Trump's opposition

GOP-led panel moves to remove federal names from military assets amid Trump’s opposition

“There’s always a story we don’t want to forget,” said Sen. Mike Rounds, a South Dakota Republican who served on the Senate Armed Services Committee when asked about the plan he supports. “In this regard, I agree with the President that we do not want to forget our history. … But at the same time, this does not mean that we should continue with these bases the names of people who fought against us.”

The amendment put GOP leaders in an awkward position – stuck between their efforts to appeal to black voters in a high-level election year and to a President who asked Republicans to adopt the line and resist the amendment.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to say whether he would support the plan, telling CNN: “It will be up to the committee to decide.”

The amendment was added to the annual bill for defense approval and could even be deleted as it proceeds with the legislative process. If Trump vetoed such a bill, it would be a big risk, as the popular defense has set a policy for the Pentagon.

Asked if the adoption of the federation’s amendment would be politically problematic in terms of public relations, the majority of the Senate, Mr. Whip John Thune, acknowledged on Thursday that it would be difficult.

“Well, I mean if it’s in the main bill coming out of the committee then, yes,” he told Republicans in South Dakota. “It’s obviously a big boost if we get something out of the bill … so we’ll see where that discussion goes. As I said, I’ve seen what the President said. I didn’t know it there.”

What adds to the complexity of Republicans is that the bill authorizing defense has been approved by Congress every year for the past 59 years – so it will no doubt put pressure on lawmakers to resolve the crucial point in voting for the sweeping bill. 60th consecutive year.

In the past two days, Trump has voiced opposition to any such move, citing America’s legacy, adding on Twitter on Thursday: “Let’s hope our great Republican senators don’t fall for it.”

However, Republican senators for re-election were divided over the plan, with Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst to support the measure, while North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis objected. Others, including Georgia’s Sen. David Perdue, did not respond to a request for comment.

“Senator Tillis objected to Senator Warren’s amendment and opposed the renaming of Fort Bragg,” said Tillis spokesman Daniel Keylin, who accused the “liberal Democrats” of seeking to “overshadow” the defense bill. “

Some Republican senators aligned themselves with Trump, including Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who opposed Warren’s plan.

“I just don’t think Congress needs to be renamed, and trying to erase that part of our history is a way of dealing with that story,” Hawley said. “I don’t think you’re turning your back on how you deal with it, you deal with it and then you move on.”

Hawley added: “I’ve heard from many soldiers who have gone through these bases and said that these bases mean something to me. I have my own story with them, please don’t rename them.”

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton also opposed the amendment, with an aide saying the GOP senator had unsuccessfully sought a change in the plan to exclude monuments to military cemeteries for federal soldiers.

However, it was clear that the amendment put some Republicans in an awkward position.

Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn, who is also on the Armed Services Committee, would not say whether she supported the amendment. “It’s an issue we’re looking at,” he said.

Nebraska’s Sen. Deb Fischer would not discuss the issue, while Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker said: “I think the committee’s idea is valuable.”

Wicker did not say if he had voted for the committee, but the amendment would set up an independent committee to review and develop a detailed plan to remove the names.

Some have made it clear that they support the amendment, including Alaskan Sen. Dan Sullivan.

Other Republican senators did not want to be publicly concerned about the issue. Senator John F. Kennedy of Louisiana, whose home state has military facilities with federal names, answered questions about the amendment with, “I have nothing for you.”

And the lone black Republican senator, Tim Scott, told CNN he had “not thought much about it” when asked if he supported removing the names of federal leaders from military bases. Scott added that he was “focused on police reform.”

Further pressing if he is open to keeping the names of the Confederation, Scott said he must “spend time thinking about the issue first”.

Military facilities named after the Confederate leaders include Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas and Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. Military bases across the country continued to bear the names of military commanders, even in the midst of intense external pressure to rename them.

CNN reported earlier this week that U.S. Secretary of Defense Ryan McCarthy and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are said to be open to “bilateral talks” over the renaming of nearly a dozen large bases and facilities bearing the names of federal military commanders. with an Army Officer.

Peace protests demanding justice and literature with racial inequalities have dominated the United States since Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, prompting many to reconsider their status quo, including the widespread use of names and symbols of military leaders.

However, some top Republicans have resisted any change.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, told reporters at a teleconference on Thursday that he had disagreements with Democrats on the issue and that he wanted “local communities, cities, towns, states to join.” whether or not they “do not want to do this,” and that the inclusion of the amendment was “the first step. ”

“We have a lot of ways to go about this,” Inhofe said.

Former Democrat on the committee, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, who attended the same teleconference with Inhoff, agreed that the amendment was a “first step.”

“I think what we saw yesterday was a very thoughtful process and a bilateral process to get a very complex and difficult issue and set up a committee that will have a three-year term,” Reed said. “This will carefully consider all aspects of this issue and will also be able to attract local communities interested in the names of these facilities and, after this process, come up with a way to rename these facilities the way we do. what can we do to maintain, I think, our loyalty to the Constitution and the principles that govern the country. “

This story has been updated with additional developments on Thursday.

CNN’s Nikki Carvajal, Ali Zaslav and Barbara Starr contributed to the report.

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