Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Sunday defended a provision attached to Congress’ annual defense authorization bill that would provide for the renaming of U.S. military bases honoring Confederate commanders.
“I think we’ve finally come to grips with our history, and we’ve come to grips with it in the appropriate way,” the Rhode Island Democrat told “Fox News Sunday,” adding that the effort “wasn’t a Republican initiative or Democratic initiative” and had emerged from the Armed Services Committee “on a bipartisan basis.”
The Republican-led Senate panel, on which Reed is the top Democrat, approved last month an amendment to its version of the National Defense Authorization Act offered by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that would force the Pentagon to remove names, monuments and paraphernalia honoring the Confederacy from military bases over the next three years.
Although senior military leaders including Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy have expressed openness to renaming the 10 Army bases and facilities named after Confederate military leaders, President Donald Trump has vocally opposed such revisions — even threatening last week to veto the NDAA if congressional lawmakers approve the measure with Warren’s amendment intact.
But Reed, a former Army Ranger who served in the 82nd Airborne Division, maintained Sunday that the naming of Army installations after Confederate figures “does not represent what I think should be consistent with our … honoring of American military heroes.”
“The factor I think that is important today is when you look at a post in the United States military, it is composed of men and women, it is composed of Americans of all different races,” he said. “It cannot be named, I think, for someone who basically pledged his service to a system that was based on slavery. That has to be changed, and we will.”