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Trump threatens to veto defense bill over Confederate base names

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  • The White House is threatening to veto the $740 billion defense bill over provisions calling for changes to the names of bases honoring Confederate leaders.
  • “Over the years, these locations have taken on significance to the American story and those who have helped write it that far transcends their namesakes,” a White House statement says.
  • President Donald Trump has celebrated these bases and threatened to veto any defense spending bill that called for name changes.
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The White House has a $740 billion defense spending bill in its crosshairs as it fights to preserve military base names honoring Confederate leaders.

The bill, which the House of Representatives is voting on Tuesday, provides hundreds of billions of dollars to the US armed forces for fiscal year 2021 with certain conditions, including a requirement that bases named after Confederate leaders be changed within one year. A Senate version requires the change within three years.

“Over the years, these locations have taken on significance to the American story and those who have helped write it that far transcends their namesakes,” the White House argued in a statement Tuesday, according to Bloomberg News. “The administration respects the legacy of the millions of American servicemen and women who have served with honor at these military bases, and who from these locations have fought and died in two World Wars, Vietnam, the War on Terror, and other conflicts.”

There are ten US Army bases, such as Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, and Fort Pickett, that are named after Confederate leaders. While both Army and Pentagon leaders have expressed a willingness to reconsider the names, President Donald Trump has been strongly opposed.

Asked about changing the names over the weekend, the president said: “I don’t care what the military says.”

Trump has firmly rejected the possibility of renaming bases that honor those who fought against the US, tweeting last month “my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”

The president has also tweeted previously that he would veto a defense bill that calls for the renaming of bases named after the Confederacy.

Speaking before the House Armed Service Committee this month, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milleycondemned the Confederacy as an “act of treason.” He also suggested the military take a “hard look” at bases honoring Confederate military leaders, as well as other related symbols.

On Friday, the Pentagon effectively banned the Confederate battle flag from military bases in a department memo that rejected “divisive symbols.”

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