With Congress’ override of the president’s veto of the $741 billion defense budget bill also comes the news that soon, a new name will be assigned to Fort Lee.
What is the process for that? Actually, it’s not going to be quickly done because the language in the legislation calls for the renaming to take place over a three-year period. A special commission will oversee all of the procedure, from soliciting and vetting names to making the final recommendations.
The price tag for the work is around $2 million.
Despite President Donald Trump’s threat to veto it because of the renaming provision, both houses of Congress passed the bill by veto-proof margins. That meant that if Trump carried through with his threat to veto — which he did last month — both the Senate and House would have more than enough of the two-thirds majority constitutionally required to override it — which both did.
The president’s veto was based in part on the language that asked for new names for 10 Army posts in the South whose current names honor Confederate generals. Three of those posts are in Virginia: Fort Lee, Fort A.P. Hill in Caroline County and Fort Pickett in Nottoway County.
Now that it has been overridden, what is next?
Within 45 days of Congress’ action, the Pentagon must create the commission to oversee the renaming. The eight-person panel will consist of members selected by the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees to ensure bipartisanship.
Between now and October, that panel will begin the work of the renaming process — something Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says will involve a great deal of local community involvement.
By October 2022, the commission will make a formal presentation of what the new names should be. The plan will include what assets need to be renamed and the cost associated with doing so.
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