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19 Jul, 2020 15:34

‘Do we name Fort Bragg after Rev Al Sharpton?’ Trump says he may veto renaming of military bases honoring Confederate generals

‘Do we name Fort Bragg after Rev Al Sharpton?’ Trump says he may veto renaming of military bases honoring Confederate generals

US President Donald Trump has threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act over the proposed purge of military base names that honor Confederate figures, telling Fox News, “Yeah, I might.”

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Trump told anchor Chris Wallace that renaming bases wouldn’t go down well. “Go to the community, say, ‘How do you like the idea of renaming Fort Bragg, and then what are we going to name it?’ And ‘We’re going to name it after the Reverend Al Sharpton’?” he said, referring to the black civil rights activist and minister. 

Renaming Confederate-honoring military installations is part of the provisions and recommendations contained in Congress’s annual defense authorization bill, the NDAA. It was included in response to the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted across the country after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. 

Trump threatened to veto the $740 billion defense bill over the renaming of military bases earlier in July. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters in June that he wouldn’t sign any legislation that included any mention of renaming bases, saying the idea was a “non-starter” for the president. 

Calls to remove Confederate statues and the Confederate flag have intensified in the past few months. Many consider them to be offensive because Confederate fighters in the 1861 US civil war were fighting to uphold slavery. Trump and others see it as a free speech issue, as the flag is part of the culture of southern US states. 

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Trump told Wallace that the Confederate flag was not a race issue, as “when people proudly have their Confederate flags, they’re not talking about racism. They love their flag – it represents the South.” 

We can’t cancel our whole history. We can’t forget that the North and the South fought. We have to remember that, otherwise we’ll end up fighting again. 

The Confederate provision was added to both the House and the Senate’s versions of the NDAA bills. The Senate addition was introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and passed in the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee, while the House provision was a bipartisan addition by Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md) and Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb). 

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Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken) and top House Republican Kevin McCarthy (R-Cal) were among those Republicans who said they wouldn’t oppose the idea. Trump’s first threat of a veto was also met with apathy from many Republican politicians.

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