GOP senator fails in bid to protect Confederate military base names

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Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley attempted to remove the name-change requirement from the National Defense Authorization Act, but was blocked by his own party.

The Senate rejected an effort by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) on Thursday to preserve the names of U.S. military facilities named after leaders of the Confederacy.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed a cloture motion to end debate on the bill without a vote on Hawley's amendment.

The amendment would have eliminated a requirement — agreed to on June 11 by the Senate Armed Services Committee — that the Defense Department remove the names of Confederate generals from 10 major military bases within three years.

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The bipartisan provision was included as part of the larger annual defense package, the National Defense Authorization Act.

Hawley sought unanimous consent to get a vote on removing it, but a colleague objected.

"I've been told that we can't even have a vote," Hawley lamented afterward, in a floor speech. "No vote! We can't even call the roll on this. No, we've just got to swallow it and move on as the woke cancel culture moves on, steamrolling our history and our traditions, and yes, our best traditions as Americans."

The move comes as the nation reckons with its racist history and present.

Protesters around the world have marched to demand an end systemic racism and, in the United States, have pushed to remove statues of those who led and fought with the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who proposed the name-change rule, said previously that it was "long past time to end the tribute to white supremacy on our military installations."

Hawley objected to the requirement at the time, calling it a "left-wing assault on history."

"This latest effort to unilaterally rename bases and remove war memorials, all behind closed doors, smacks of the cancel culture the Left wants to impose on the nation," the first-term senator said. "Any discussion about renaming bases should be had in the light of day, out in the open, and it should involve military families, veterans, and state and local stakeholders."

He added that "the mob will keep marching through all our cultural institutions until every American whom the woke crowd deems unjust is cancelled."

Hawley's proposal would have removed the renaming requirement and replaced it with a commission to "gather input from military families and veterans" and suggest specific name changes to Congress.

Donald Trump has similarly defended keeping the names of Confederate figures on U.S. bases, tweeting in early June that "these Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom."

He vowed that his administration would "not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations."

If the House and Senate pass the annual Defense authorization — which is generally regarded as "must-pass" legislation — with the renaming language in it, Trump will have to decide whether to veto the whole bill or accept the new requirement.

He claimed Tuesday that he would veto if the name-change requirement were included.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.