Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he was open to renaming military bases named after Confederate leaders – but he didn’t want Confederate statues in the Capitol removed.
‘If it’s appropriate to take another look at these names, I’m personally OK with that – and I am a descendant of a Confederate veteran myself,’ McConnell said, according to Politico. ‘What I do think is clearly a bridge too far is this nonsense that we need to airbrush the Capitol and scrub out everybody from years ago who had any connection to slavery.’
Last week, President Trump said he ‘will not even consider’ renaming military bases and he’s historically been against the removal of Confederate statues, hinting at his thinking on the matter when he said at the White House Tuesday, ‘We must build upon our heritage – not tear it down.’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he’d be open to renaming military bases currently named for Confederates, but is against the removal of Confederate statues on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
President Trump talked upon ‘building upon’ not tearing down the U.S.’s ‘heritage,’ potentially a veiled reference to his reluctance to take down Confederate statues and his refusal to rename military bases named after those who fought for the south in the Civil War
Fort Bragg is named after Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg, who was known for being notoriously bad at his job. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he was open to having bases named for Confederates renamed
Also among bases that could see a name change is Fort Benning, located on the Alabama and Georgia border, it is ‘Home of the Infantry’ and was named in 1917 for plantation owner Henry L. Benning, who argued for secession from 1849, and railed against ‘black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything’
Confederate statues on Capitol Hill includes one of Jefferson Davis (pictured), the president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War
The issue of keeping Confederate statues and names on things came up in the aftemath of George Floyd’s death and the subsequent ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests that have been ongoing since Memorial Day.
Last Monday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told Politico he was ‘open’ to renaming the 10 bases named for Confederate figures. Defense Secretary Mark Esper also supported the conversation.
Floyd’s controversial killing by a white police officer motivated McCarthy’s change of heart, one Army official told Politico. The events ‘made us start looking more at ourselves and the things that we do and how that is communicated ot the force as well as the American people,’ the source said.
Two days later, however, Trump dramatically kicked off White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s briefing by tweeting that he would consider no such thing.
‘These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,’ Trump tweeted. ‘The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars.’
‘Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations,’ Trump said.
In the hours following Trump’s refusal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi upped the ante by announcing she wanted the remaining Confederate statues on Capitol Hill gone.
At her press conference Thursday, she called it ‘the perfect time’ to get rid of the 11 remaining statues displayed in the Capitol complex that depicted Americans who fought for the Confederacy or had ties to slavery.
‘These names are white supremacists that said terrible things about our country,’ Pelosi said.
Lawmakers, however, can’t just get the statues moved, they would have to pass – and have Trump sign – a new bill that bars Confederate soldiers from being on display.
‘Let me just say that when I was Speaker, I did do what I had the authority to do, which was to relegate Robert E. Lee to the crypt,’ Pelosi said, speaking of her time serving as speaker between 2007 and 2011. ‘I could move things around I couldn’t take them out, that requires something else.’
Later Thursday, Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, released language for a new bill that would allow states to contribute statues except of those ‘who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America.’
So far, Republicans have been more supportive of the move to rename military bases.
The Republican-led Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday night for an amendment proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a former Democratic presidential candidate, giving the military three years to rename bases and other entities with names related to the Confederacy.
A number of GOP lawmakers, however, wouldn’t tell reporters which way they voted.
Trump later tweeted: ‘Seriously failed presidential candidate, Senator Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren, just introduced an Amendment on the renaming of many of our legendary Military Bases from which we trained to WIN two World Wars.’
‘Hopefully our great Republican Senators won’t fall for this!’ the president wrote.
McConnell expressed ambivalence when asked about it Tuesday.
‘With regard to military bases, whatever is ultimately decided, I don’t have a problem with,’ the top Senate Republican said.
On the issue of the statues, since states each contribute them, Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican who chairs the Joint Committee on the Library, said it continues to be up to them.
President Trump sent out a trio of tweets just before Wednesday’s White House briefing saying he was against renaming 10 Army bases that are currently named for Confederate leaders
Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany printed out a statement, which mirrored President Trump’s tweets, and handed it out to reporters before Wednesday’s White House press briefing expressing that he was against the renaming of military bases named for Confederates
That being said, Blunt pointed out how ‘several states have moved toward replacing statues and others appear headed in the same direction.’
‘This process is ongoing and encouraging,’ Blunt told DailyMail.com in a statement last week.
McConnell echoed Trump and McEnany when talking about the statues, pointing out that a number of former American presidents were slave-owners.
During her Wednesday briefing, McEnany segued from talking about the military bases, to asking reporers which American figured would be scrubbed from history next if Confederate names were removed.
‘Should George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison be erased from history?’ she asked. ‘What about FDR and his internment camps? Should he be erased from history? Or Lyndon Johnson? Who has a history of documented racist statements.’
She even suggested that Trump’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden, was in jeopardy of being erased because of the controversial remarks he made last year, when he pointed out his work with segregationist senators, during his long Congressional career.