June 26, 2020

Udall, Heinrich Introduce Legislation To Rename All Bases And Other Military Assets Named For The Confederacy Within One Year

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), along with 34 Senate Democrats, have introduced standalone legislation requiring the Pentagon to remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America and anyone who voluntarily served it from all military bases and other assets of the Department of Defense. The Pentagon must rename the assets within one year.

“Our military installations should not honor the Confederacy —a betrayal of our country in order to preserve the institution of slavery,” said Udall. “I am a strong believer in education and increased awareness about all chapters of American history, including reckoning with the legacy of slavery and the civil war. But this debate is not about history, it’s about who deserves recognition on federal facilities. Members of our military from all races, backgrounds and walks of life have sworn a solemn oath to protect and defend our country, and I believe we should appropriately honor their service, not celebrate the confederacy or its leaders.” 

“It is long overdue to stop naming military bases and other DoD assets after people who betrayed our nation and fought to preserve the institution of slavery,” said Heinrich. “I am proud to introduce this legislation because our servicemembers and their families from all backgrounds deserve to be stationed at installations named for heroes they can be proud of.” 

The Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) passed a bipartisan version of the amendment to the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to remove all 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. The proposal also creates a process for identifying all military assets where the Confederacy is honored and implementing the new removal requirement. After the bipartisan proposal was adopted, Senator Heinrich joined U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who introduced the amendment, along with other SASC Democrats in a letter urging President Donald J. Trump to support it. 

The Removing Confederate Names and Symbols from Our Military Act will:

- Require the Secretary of Defense to remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America from all assets of the Department of Defense. Grave markers will be exempted.
- Define the term ''asset'' to include any base, installation, street, building, facility, aircraft, ship, plane, weapon, equipment, or any other property owned or controlled by the Department of Defense.
Require the Secretary of Defense to submit a certification in writing to SASC and the House Armed Services Committee detailing that removal has been completed.
- Prohibit the future display of any name, symbol, display, monument or paraphernalia that honors or commemorates the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily.

Read the full text of the bill here.