Politics

U.S. House panel backs defense bill, Confederate battle looms

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. House of Representatives committee unanimously backed a $741 billion defense bill late on Wednesday, setting the stage for a battle with President Donald Trump over naming military bases for Confederate generals and moving troops from Germany.

The House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, by 56-0 shortly before midnight.

The bill sets policy for the Department of Defense on everything from how many ships are built to benefits for troops to how the country should counter threats from Russia and China.

Because it is one of the few bills Congress passes every year, lawmakers use the NDAA as a vehicle for a wide range of policy provisions.

The House version of the 2021 NDAA includes an amendment to remove the names of Confederate generals, who fought U.S. forces during the Civil War, from military bases within a year.

The Senate’s version of the NDAA includes a provision to change the names within three years.

Widespread protests over the treatment of Black Americans and bipartisan support in Congress make it likely that some version of the provision will remain in the NDAA as it moves through Congress.

After the House and Senate pass their versions, they will negotiate a compromise version of the bill, which both chambers must pass before it can be sent to Trump.

Trump has promised a veto, breaking with several of his fellow Republicans in Congress who favor changing the names. The House provision was introduced by Democratic Representative Anthony Brown and Republican Don Bacon.

The House NDAA also would make it more difficult for Trump to follow through on plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops stationed in Germany by barring their removal unless the Pentagon certifies doing so will not affect national security.

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