House Passes Defense Bill That Would Remove Names Of Confederate Officers From Military Bases

Tuesday, July 21st 2020, 9:11 pm
By: CBS News

The House passed the massive $741 billion annual defense spending bill with bipartisan support, 295 to 125 Tuesday. 

The bill, which includes a 3% pay raise for U.S. troops, now goes to the Senate for a vote, where it is expected to pass but faces a veto by President Trump. He objects to a provision that would remove the names of Confederate leaders from U.S. military bases.

The White House said in a statement of administration policy Tuesday that the president's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill. The policy stated that the White House "strongly supports" the spending bill but "strongly objects" to the section that would "require renaming of certain military institutions" and also expressed concern about the provisions "that seek to micromanage aspects of the executive branch's authority, impose highly prescriptive limitations on the use of funds for Afghanistan, and otherwise constrain the President's authority to protect national security interests."

The president has publicly rebuffed calls for Confederate monuments to be removed and the names of Army installations to be changed, tweeting last month that his administration "will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations."

If Mr. Trump vetoes the bill, the Senate and House are expected to override the veto.

The $740 billion annual defense policy bill, which had broad Republican support, also establishes a chief diversity officer for the Defense Department, prohibits the use of military funds for a southern border wall, and would not allow logistical support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. 

Congress has approved the annual defense measure every year for almost six decades. It typically enjoys veto-proof support, though various controversies often mean that it does not pass until late in the year.

The bill passed by the House would create a Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund, directing $1 billion to efforts to prepare for and respond to future pandemics. 

The bill also prevents the use of Pentagon funds to reduce U.S. forces stationed in Germany and elsewhere in Europe below levels present in June, unless the Defense secretary and Joint Chiefs of staff certify six months in advance that the reduction would not negatively affect U.S. and allied security.

It would fully fund the European Deterrence Initiative and provide billions of dollars for submarine and anti-submarine warfare capabilities that enhance deterrence against Russia. It also provides $250 million to support Ukraine and extends a ban on funding for any activity that would recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea.

Non-defense-related items also won approval, including environmental measures pushed by Democrats in the West to protect the Grand Canyon and wilderness areas in three states.

The bill also provides up to $10,000 in debt relief to millions of private student loan borrowers, including thousands of service members and veterans. The amendment's sponsor, Representative Madeleine Dean, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a student debt crisis that has left at least one in seven student loan borrowers more than 90 days delinquent in their payments.