Trump threatens veto of defense bill over Confederate base names

President Donald Trump issued a formal veto threat against a major bipartisan defense policy bill approved by the House on Tuesday, with the White House citing opposition to a provision backed by the Pentagon which would let the military rename military installations that honor Confederate generals.

“(T)he Administration strongly objects to section 2829, which would require naming of certain military institutions,” as the first thing cited in the veto threat was the one year plan to rename bases ‘named after any person who served in the political or military leadership of any armed rebellion against the United States.'

The veto message acknowledged that the President fully supported the funding authorized by the House defense bill, with $740.5 billion for the military, including a pay raise for active duty forces.

Democrats wasted no time criticizing the President for putting the Confederacy before a 3 percent pay raise for the U.S. military.

The President also said last month that he opposed a similar provision in the Senate version of the defense bill, which gives the Pentagon three years to change the names of a series of Army bases which bear the names of Confederate military officers.

The House bill also prohibits the public display of the Confederate battle flag on U.S. military installations.

In recent interviews, the President has said he supports people flying the Confederate flag, arguing it's about freedom of speech.

"When people proudly have their Confederate flags, they're not talking about racism. They love their flag, it represents the South," the President said on Fox News Sunday.

“With me, it’s freedom of speech. Very simple,” the President told CBS last week.

The House voted 295-125 in favor of the defense bill - more than enough votes to override a Presidential veto.

The Senate is expected to vote next week on its version of the same measure, which also includes Confederate base name change language.

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