U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is among the 37 members of the Democratic caucus who requested that the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act retain a provision to strip the names of Confederate officers from military facilities.
The senators pointed to comments from the chair of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., as the source of their concern. This summer, Inhofe told The Oklahoman, “We’re going to see to it that provision doesn’t survive the bill.”
The Senate passed its version of the NDAA by a vote of 86-14 in July, and the U.S. House of Representatives advanced its version of the annual defense bill with a vote of 295-125. A conference committee will need to reconcile the differences between the two.
“We strongly oppose removing this provision and respectfully request the conferees to retain in the conference report the provision endorsed by both chambers: a requirement for the department to rename all military assets named for the Confederacy no later than three years after the date of enactment,” wrote the Democratic senators in a Nov. 10 letter to the leaders of both chambers’ armed services committees.
There are 10 Army facilities that honor leaders of the Confederate forces in the Civil War. The Senate’s version of the NDAA would require renaming within three years, while the House inserted a faster timetable of one year. Advocates for the measure cited as problematic the facts that Confederate soldiers fought against the United States and the Confederacy’s support for maintaining slavery.