Annual Defense Budget Authorization, Which Includes the Base Renaming Measure, Is Under Final Deliberations
Denver – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined 36 Senate colleagues to urge Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.), along with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), to retain the bicameral, bipartisan measure to require the renaming of military installations and assets that honor the Confederacy and Confederate officers within three years in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Senate and House Armed Services leaders begin the final stage of conference negotiations over the NDAA this week.
In June, the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) passed a bipartisan bill to remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederacy and anyone who voluntarily served it from bases and other property of the U.S. military. The House Armed Services Committee passed a similar measure that would create a process for identifying all military assets honoring the Confederacy and a requirement to remove them. The House bill requires the process to be complete within one year, while the Senate bill authorizes a three-year period. In their letter, Bennet and the senators urge the conference committee to adopt a reconciled version of the measure that would require renaming to be complete within three years. Both committees passed their bills out of committee with overwhelming bipartisan majorities and each chamber followed suit.
“The Senate and House strongly supported the inclusion of this requirement by passing their bills with overwhelming, veto-proof, bipartisan majorities. The requirement also received bipartisan support in committee markups,” wrote Bennet and the senators.
Their latest letter raises concerns with Chairman Inhofe's declaration that he intends to strip the bipartisan, veto-proof provision out behind closed doors in conference, saying "We're going to see to it that provision doesn't survive the bill... I'm not going to say how at this point."
Bennet and the senators continued: “We strongly oppose removing this provision and respectfully request the conferees to retain in the conference report the provision endorsed by both chambers: a requirement for the Department to rename all military assets named for the Confederacy no later than three years after the date of enactment.”
They concluded: “Millions of servicemembers of color have lived on, trained at, and deployed from installations named to honor traitors that killed Americans in defense of chattel slavery. Renaming these bases does not disrespect our military - it honors the sacrifices and contributions of our servicemembers in a way that better reflects our nation's diversity and values. We know who these bases were named for and why they were named. It is long past the time to correct this longstanding, historic injustice. We must not shrink from our solemn duty in his moment.”
In June, Bennet cosponsored legislation requiring the Pentagon to remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America and anyone who voluntarily served it from all military bases and other assets of the Department of Defense (DoD) within one year.
In addition to Bennet, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
The text of the letter is available HERE.