Lawmakers line up showdown with Trump over Confederate base names

By John M. Donnelly, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — The defense authorization conference report for fiscal 2021 will defy a veto threat and require a change to the names of U.S. military bases that honor Confederate figures, according to a senator who championed the change.

"It's in," Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told reporters Wednesday.

President Donald Trump had threatened to veto the NDAA if it contained such a requirement. On Tuesday evening, he threatened a veto on another issue: his insistence that the final measure repeal a law that protects social media companies from certain lawsuits.

The conferees intend to sign the NDAA conference report Wednesday evening. The Senate voted by unanimous consent Wednesday morning to formally go to a conference on the bill, the last procedural step before the measure is made final, and the Senate also named its conferees on Wednesday.

The legislation, which has become law for 59 straight fiscal years, would authorize for fiscal 2021 about three-quarters of a trillion dollars in defense spending and would set Pentagon policies. The House and Senate adopted their versions of the bills with veto-proof margins earlier this year.

The House hopes to vote on the conference report next week, top aides said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., then must decide whether and when to bring it up in the Senate.


Before Trump's eleventh-hour threat on the social media issue, the Confederacy topic had been the last thorny dispute that needed to be resolved before the bill could be finalized.

The Confederate base names had become a charged issue as the country wrestled this year with a reckoning on race sparked by the recent killing of several African Americans in police custody.

Both chambers had passed NDAAs that would mandate a change in Confederate base names. The House had included a provision by Democrat Anthony G. Brown of Maryland and Republican Don Bacon of Nebraska that would require the Defense secretary to make the switch within a year. The Senate had opted to include language by Warren to establish a commission to implement the changes within three years.

The final conference report is expected to reflect the basics of Warren's provision on the timing and implementation details, rather than the House language, one aide said.


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