WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is threatening to veto legislation to fund the military as one of his final acts in office unless a widely supported, bipartisan provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate military leaders is removed, according to White House, defense and congressional sources.
Since the Nov. 3 election, Trump has privately told Republican lawmakers that he won’t back down from his position during the campaign that he would veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act if it includes an amendment to rename the bases.
A senior administration official confirmed Trump’s conversations with Republicans and his veto threat. “He’s said that,” the official said.
Trump’s stance has put in doubt legislation that had been agreed to by Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate. It has sent members of Trump’s party scrambling to find a path for the defense bill, which outlines military policy and funding, and put them on a collision course with Democrats.
While some Republicans are now shifting their positions to align with Trump, Democrats are refusing to budge on the agreed-to amendment, threatening passage of the legislation.
The effort to change the names of military bases honoring Confederate military leaders has been a target for Trump for months. It was among the disagreements he had with his former defense secretary, Mark Esper, who was quietly working with Congress to codify the renaming of bases in the bill before Trump fired him this month.
The pressure from Trump has increased as members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees have begun formal negotiations to work out the differences in the legislative bodies’ respective bills.