The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto annual defense policy legislation in part because it includes a provision that would direct the Pentagon to rename military bases currently named after Confederate leaders.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a statement hours before a House vote on the massive defense policy bill expressing “serious concerns” about multiple provisions of the bill. The White House said that if the bill were presented to President Trump in its current form, “his senior advisors would recommend that he veto it.”
“The Administration strongly objects to section 2829, which would require renaming of certain military institutions,” the statement reads. “It also has serious concerns about provisions of the bill that seek to micromanage aspects of the executive branch’s authority, impose highly prescriptive limitations on the use of funds for Afghanistan, and otherwise constrain the President’s authority to protect national security interests.”
The White House said that many of the provisions “would pose significant challenges” to the administration’s implementation of its national defense strategy.
Trump has previously expressed opposition to the renaming of bases named after Confederate leaders — a position that put him at odds with Pentagon leaders — and has also defended flying the Confederate flag as “freedom of speech.” Trump has described the bases named for Confederate leaders as a part of American history.
The president threatened to veto the bill, formally known as the National Defense Authorization Act, in a tweet earlier this month. In an interview with Fox News over the weekend, Trump appeared to soften his position, saying that he “might” veto the bill.
The statement released Tuesday describes the provision as “part of a sustained effort to erase from the history of the Nation those who do not meet an ever-shifting standard of conduct,” pointing to ongoing efforts to rename or topple federal monuments and memorials.