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Trump threatens to veto Warren-backed defense bill removing Confederate names from military bases

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the measure with bipartisan support.
Image: President Donald Trump delivers a speech following a tour of Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin
President Donald Trump delivers a speech following a tour of Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin, on June 25.Carlos Barria / Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump threatened Wednesday to veto a national defense bill the Senate is considering if an amendment from Sen. Elizabeth Warren to rename military bases honoring the Confederacy is not removed.

"I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth 'Pocahontas' Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars, is in the Bill!" Trump tweeted.

The amendment was adopted by the GOP-led Senate Armed Services Committee last month with support from both Democrats and Republicans.

The provision, which was wrapped into the massive defense bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act, would rename all bases and other military assets that honor the Confederacy. It would, within three years, scrub from bases and other military property all names, symbols, displays, monuments and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederacy and anyone who served it, Warren's office said.

"American military bases that carry the names of Confederate generals are not named for heroes," Warren said in a floor speech Tuesday as the Senate debated the overall defense bill. "They are not named for men who risked their lives defending the United States and its soldiers. They are named for men who took up arms against the United States of America and killed American soldiers in the defense of slavery."

Warren added, "Those who complain that removing the names of traitors from these bases ignores history ought to learn some history themselves."

The Senate has been aiming to pass the defense bill before the Fourth of July holiday. The House is working on its own version.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said in a tweet about Trump's veto threat early Wednesday that there likely would not be enough votes to strip the amendment from the legislation.

"There are definitely not 60 votes to remove that provision, which is already in the bill, and I don't think there are 50," he said.

CORRECTION: (July 2, 2020, 5:15 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated when the Senate Armed Services Committee adopted Sen. Elizabeth Warren's amendment to the defense authorization bill. The committee approved the amendment June 11, not this month.