White House threatens to veto defense bill over bases named for Confederates

The White House is warning that President Donald Trump would veto defense policy legislation expected to pass the House on Tuesday, citing his opposition to removing Confederate names from Army bases, among other policy differences.

The veto threat came as lawmakers churned through amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act on the House floor, including solidly rejecting cuts to the defense budget and calls for an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“If [the House NDAA] were presented to the President in its current form, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto it,” warned the statement of administration policy, issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The veto threat could put pressure on House Republicans, who have so far supported the $741 billion policy bill, mere hours before a final vote.

Chief among the administration’s complaints with the House is a provision requiring the removal of Confederate names from Army bases within a year of the bill’s enactment. Trump has signaled he would nix legislation that attempts to rename the 10 bases.

The veto threat called the provision “part of a sustained effort to erase from the history of the Nation those who do not meet an ever-shifting standard of conduct.” Echoing Trump, the White House warned of efforts to erase the legacy of former Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

“President Trump has been clear in his opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to rewrite history and to displace the enduring legacy of the American Revolution with a new left-wing cultural revolution,” the White House said.

The White House has not issued a formal veto threat against the Senate NDAA though it also contains a bipartisan provision to remove Confederate names from bases and other military assets. The Senate renaming process would take up to three years.

The Senate is expected to vote on its version of the defense bill this week.

In addition to renaming bases, the veto threat outlines several other disagreements. The administration criticized provisions limiting the amount of military construction money Trump can tap for the border.

The White House also objected to bipartisan provisions that limit Trump’s aims to draw down troops from Afghanistan and in Germany that were approved during the House Armed Services markup of the bill.

“[The administration] also has serious concerns about provisions of the bill 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 White House argued. “Many of these provisions would pose significant challenges to continued execution of the [National Defense Strategy].”


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