Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, predicted Congress would override a veto from President Trump on the must-pass bill to fund the military for fiscal year 2021 if it includes an amendment to rename military bases named after Confederate leaders.
Grassley told Iowa reporters Monday he hoped the president wouldn’t veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) because of the amendment.
“I would hope he wouldn’t veto it just based on that,” Grassley said of Trump.
He said the issue of renaming bases could be considered separately from the full defense spending bill, but if not, he believes Congress will likely have the votes to override the veto.
“If it came to overriding a veto, we’d probably override the veto,” he said.
Trump has issued eight vetoes during his presidency and none have been overridden by Congress.
The amendment in the Senate bill states that within three years the defense secretary “shall implement the plan submitted by the commission … and remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America … or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America from all assets of the Department of Defense.”
The House Armed Services committee separately voted to include a provision in the NDAA to have the names changed within one year. Once the House and Senate pass their own versions of the bill, they’ll need to come to agreement on one final piece of legislation.
“There shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction to renaming bases,” Grassley said Monday. “And I imagine that in my lifetime, there’s been a lot of bases that have had their names changed. I’m not aware of it. But the extent to which it’s a thoughtful process and not a knee-jerk reaction, I wouldn’t have any objection to it.”
The White House has repeatedly said renaming bases named after Confederates was a nonstarter and last week Trump threatened to veto the mammoth spending bill if it included the amendment introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren to rename bases.
“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.
“These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,” Trump also tweeted. “Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations. Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!”
Last week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged Trump to rethink his veto threat.
“I hope the president would 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 of some of these military bases,” McConnell said on “The Daily Briefing.”
“I would hope the president really wouldn’t veto the bill over this issue,” McConnell told host Dana Perino. “In the bill, there’s a requirement of a three-year study about changing the names. To me, this is quite different from trying to airbrush the Capitol of every statue.”
Previous efforts to rename at least 10 military installations, including Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, have stalled on the grounds that those names are part of tradition. But Warren in her speech introducing the amendment said the country could not continue to allow its military installations to honor “traitors” to the United States.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted Trump would not follow through on his veto threat, calling it a “typical bluster from President Trump.”
“Let me predict that President Trump will not veto a bill that contains pay raises for our troops and crucial support for our military,” Schumer said.