WASHINGTON (WAVY) — So far, President Donald Trump is eight-for-eight on vetoes. Congress has never been able to override him on legislation he didn’t want.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, says that streak is about to end in the battle of the bases.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed bills calling for the removal of the names of Confederate generals from military installations.
The provision to remove the Confederate names is expected to be part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which serves as a spending plan for the military.
“I am very confident that if President Trump were to veto the NDAA over the Confederate naming provision, that he would then have his first veto overridden by Congress,” Kaine said in a Wednesday interview.
With Fort Lee, Fort Pickett and Fort AP Hill, Virginia has more of these bases than any other state.
North Carolina has Fort Bragg.
A recent Military Times Poll of both enlisted members and officers showed 49 percent want the bases to be renamed, 37 percent disagreed.
But the big number in the battle over base names right now is 67 percent. That’s what’s needed — a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate — to override a Trump veto.
“Based on the vote on this in each chamber, he would be overridden on this,” Kaine said.
We asked two military veterans with experience in congress about their perspectives on the naming controversy – both the current representative from Virginia’s second congressional district which includes Virginia Beach, Democrat Elaine Luria, and her immediate predecessor in that office, Republican Scott Taylor.
Taylor is a retired Navy SEAL and Luria is a retired commander, and they are facing each other in the November election as they did in 2018.
Here are Taylor’s comments:
“Cancel-culture, such as changing the names of our military bases, does not effectively or directly address key issues facing our nation. While Elaine Luria and her liberal allies look to erase our history, I want us to remember it and learn from it to move toward a better future. Whether I was jumping out of airplanes at Fort Benning, firing off explosives at Fort A.P. Hill, navigating through the forest during live fire exercises at Fort Pickett, or preparing for urban warfare in a simulated city in Fort Polk… my military career provided me with experience at several of the bases in question. Speaking from personal experience, it is not the origin of the name of the bases that fills our service men and women with a sense of American pride or duty. The names of our military bases are one small part of our greater, American military history.
“Not one of us is perfect – to include American generals and military heroes. The names of these bases have come to represent much more than the single man who once existed, and whose name the base reflects. Our military installations represent our American values, which unite us all and transcend imperfect people. No modern politician should attempt to use these historic names to drive an emotionally-charged political divide – it is just distracting from effective policy. Representatives in DC should not be dictating the way we live our lives – what culture and history is permissible, and what is not. If changes are to be made, the decision should be made by servicemembers and locals to each base, not politicians.”
Here are Luria’s comments:
“As a 20-year Navy veteran, I know the powerful message we will send to members of our Armed Forces by changing the names of U.S. military installations that currently bear the name of Confederate officers. That’s why I voted in favor of a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would require the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on the process for renaming military installations that are currently named for a Confederate officer and then, within one year of enactment of the bill, the Secretary of Defense would be required to have completed the renaming process. Given the results of the recent Military Times poll, it’s clear that many servicemembers share my concern regarding President Trump’s threat to veto the NDAA over this provision, his continued disrespect for those who have served, and his overall fitness to serve as Commander in Chief.”
The president has said removing the generals’ names would be re-writing history, and would replace the legacy of an American revolution with a left-wing cultural revolution. The NDAA also provides for a pay raise for troops, healthcare assistance for military families, and investments in platforms of national defense, which Kaine says would be put in limbo with a veto.
“If the president says none of that’s important, what’s important to me is keeping the names of Confederate generals on military bases, and so he vetoes all the good to accomplish that, I predict that he will have his veto overridden.”
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