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Veto override likely if Trump vetoes military base renaming legislation, Sen. Chuck Grassley predicts

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on September 27, 2018. (Saul Loeb/Pool/Abaca Press/TNS)

Congress will override President Donald Trump if he vetoes a $740.5 billion defense policy bill because it includes legislation to rename military bases and assets that honor Confederate leaders, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley predicted Monday.

“Well, first of all, I would hope he wouldn’t veto it just based on that,” the Iowa Republican told reporters Monday.

Trump has threatened to veto the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act if lawmakers include a provision to rename those bases and other military assets that refer to the Confederacy.

“I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars, is in the Bill!” he said in a Twitter post.

The Senate version of the NDAA contains a provision that would require the Pentagon to remove names, symbols, displays, monuments and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederacy and anyone who voluntarily served it from bases and other property of the U.S. military within three years.

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Such a provision would be “an absolute nonstarter,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters last week.

Grassley’s understanding is the language in the defense policy act would begin a three-year process to rename those military assets.

“To the extent to which it’s a thoughtful process and not a knee-jerk reaction, I wouldn’t have any objection to it,” he said.

Republican Senate leaders are advising the president not to veto the defense bill, Grassley said. It’s also possible Congress could establish a process to rename military bases separate from the defense bill.

“But to answer your question,” he said, “if it came to overriding a veto, we’d probably override the veto.”

Overriding a presidential veto would require the support of two-thirds of the GOP-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled House.

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© 2020 The Gazette