Don't expect finished defense bill soon, Thornberry says

Rep. Mac Thornberry (Photo: House Armed Services Committee) 

Renaming of military bases named for Confederate leaders and the threat of a presidential veto could lead to long, drawn out deliberations over the 2021 defense policy bill, according to

Rep. Mac Thornberry, the House Armed Services Committee's ranking member.

"I don't know how that will come out in conference but I do think we are in a time where neither party is rewarded for compromise and coming together and getting things done. Both sides have incentives to stake out their positions and go to battle," Thornberry said at the Defense News conference Sept. 9.

The House and Senate versions of the bill passed their respective chambers with veto-proof majorities in July. Thornberry, slated to retire this year, held fast to his suggestion that wasn't adopted in the House version of the bill: consult with the local communities, active duty and retired service members and civil rights groups first before mandating renaming bases.

But there are other points of friction that the Senate and House members will have to resolve in conference, including dealing with President Donald Trump's threat to veto a bill that mandates base renaming.

"There are further negotiations that have to occur," Thornberry said of the differing approaches the House and Senate had regarding the renaming of military bases and facilities named after Confederate leaders. "Part of that negotiation is talking with the White House about the shape of that provision."

However, any compromise or agreement is likely going to have to wait until after the November elections, he said: "It's not just one provision that prevents us from getting a conference report, it's the times we are living in."

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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