Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threat to veto defense bill that nixes Confederate names
In an obvious rally-the-base move, President Donald Trump is threatening to veto a bipartisan defense policy bill that would rename military bases that are presently named after Confederate generals. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, is among the Republicans who is imploring Trump to reconsider.
The recent “Justice for George Floyd” protests have accelerated the movement to rename institutions, from high schools to military bases, that were named after pro-slavery generals who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War — such as Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Stonewall Jackson. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is among the Democrats who has asserted that men who fought to uphold slavery should not be honored in 2020; it was Warren who sponsored the provision in the $740.5 billion bill that calls for renaming military installations if they are presently named after Confederate generals.
The bill is a rare example of Warren and McConnell agreeing on anything. And McConnell obviously believes that being perceived as pro-Confederacy is not the type of publicity Republicans need during an election year — especially with the conversation on racism that Floyd’s death has inspired.
The Senate majority leader told Fox News, “I would hope the president really wouldn’t veto the bill over this issue. I hope the president will reconsider vetoing the entire defense bill, which includes pay raises for our troops, over a provision in there that could lead to changing the names.”
Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas is worried about having a racially charged debate as well. The Hill quotes Roberts as saying of the issue, “We are now in an era of live grenades lying around. Nobody wants to jump on them.”
Another GOP senator, Oklahoma’s James Inhofe, seems to be taking some comfort in knowing that the bill probably wouldn’t reach Trump’s desk until sometime in November after the presidential election. Inhofe, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, is quoted by The Hill as saying, “It will probably be November by the time it would be coming to his desk anyway. A lot can happen between now and then.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is vehemently critical of Trump for threatening to veto the bill.
“I dare President Trump to veto the bill over Confederate base naming,” the New York Democrat asserted. “It’s in the bill, it has bipartisan support, it will stay in the bill.”