Trump says GOP lawmaker told him he will not change names of military bases

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President Donald Trump speaks during an event to sign executive orders on lowering drug prices, in the South Court Auditorium in the White House complex, Friday, July 24, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

CBS — President Trump said in a tweet that a GOP lawmaker told him he will not change the names of military bases, after a provision to rename military bases named for Confederate officials passed in Congress with a veto-proof majority. The president said Senator Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, informed him he will not change the names of bases. 

“I spoke to highly respected (Chairman) Senator @JimInhofe, who has informed me that he WILL NOT be changing the names of our great Military Bases and Forts, places from which we won two World Wars (and more!). Like me, Jim is not a believer in ‘Cancel Culture,'” Mr. Trump said in a tweet on Friday.

Both the Senate and the House passed their own versions of the National Defense Authorization Act this week, which both include a provision to change base names. The Senate language would form a commission that has three years to determine a plan for how to address renaming the bases. The version passed in the House calls for the name changes within a year.

Both houses passed the NDAA reauthorization with overwhelming majorities, meaning that they could overturn any potential veto by Mr. Trump.

Now both houses will work to reconcile the language in the two bills. As renaming bases was addressed in both the House and Senate bills, there will most likely be some type of language in the final bill that addresses this issue. Final passage of the bill is unlikely to occur until December of this year.

If the Senate language survives, the commission will have until late December 2023 to determine how to act, meaning that Congress would not have to make a decision regarding the bases in the near future. 

Inhofe’s position is that changing the names of bases should be left to local communities.

Inhofe said in an interview with The Oklahoman on Thursday that he had spoken to the president and would ensure that the provision would not be included in the final bill.

“We’re going to see to it that provision doesn’t survive the bill,” Inhofe said. “I’m not going to say how at this point.”

It’s unclear how Inhofe would ensure that the provision isn’t included in the final bill, as the House is controlled by Democrats and may not agree to consider final legislation that would not include this measure. Senator Josh Hawley already attempted to include an amendment to the NDAA which would prevent the renaming of bases, but the amendment did not get a vote on the Senate floor.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Friday to ask Inhofe how the senator plans to prevent the name changes in the legislation. McEnany also noted that a June ABC News/Ipsos poll showed that 56% of Americans oppose renaming military bases, saying “the president stands with the American people.”

There are ten U.S. Army installations named after Confederate officials: Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, Camp Beauregard in Louisiana, Fort Benning in Georgia, Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Gordon in Georgia, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Lee in Virginia, Fort Pickett in Virginia, Fort Polk in Louisiana and Fort Rucker in Alabama.

Mr. Trump’s comments come amid a nationwide reckoning over statues and monuments honoring Confederate officials and conquistadors. The House voted this week to require the removal of statues of Confederate officials from the Capitol. However, the bill’s future is uncertain in the Senate.

John Nolen contributed to this report.

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