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Sen. Heinrich: Remove Confederate names from military bases

Confederate statues and monuments have come down across the country amid protests after the death of George Floyd.

The removal of Confederate names from military bases could be next if a group of lawmakers has its way, and U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., is in that group.

Heinrich, a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, and 11 of his colleagues sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to support the committee’s proposal to the 2021 defense spending bill that calls for the removal of “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.”

“It is long overdue to end the practice of naming the bases where patriotic Americans serve our country after those who betrayed our nation and fought to preserve the institution of slavery,” Heinrich posted on social media. “Whether Donald Trump chooses to commend those traitors is up to him. Our military members of all backgrounds deserve to be stationed at installations named for heroes they can be proud of.”

There are 10 military bases named after Confederate generals, including Fort Lee in Virginia, Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Benning in Georgia and Fort Hood in Texas.

“It is long past time for the United States military to cease honoring, commemorating, or otherwise celebrating those who took up arms against the United States in the Civil War, sacrificing hundreds of thousands of American lives in order to preserve the institution of chattel slavery,” the lawmakers wrote to Trump.

The president in recent days has voiced support for keeping the names on bases and has opposed the removal of Confederate and other historical monuments.

OUTDOORS ACT: Heinrich and Trump are on the same side when it comes to legislation addressing the maintenance backlog at national parks, monuments and wildlife refuges and that would permanently fund the Land, Water Conservation Fund.

They’re for the Great Outdoors Act.

But the legislation is facing opposition. And it forced a delay in the vote for the bill.

Heinrich said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and a few others have brought up “a number of procedural impediments.”

He said a vote on the measure will probably come Tuesday or Wednesday. It is expected to pass despite the opposition.

“I’m just pleased that we moved from where we were in 2010 – where public lands was a hyper-partisan issue – to where we are today,” he said.

He said the bill has picked up Republican support because of Trump’s backing of the legislation.

“A lot of Western Republicans have figured out this is good policy,” Heinrich said. He said access to public lands brings members of both parties together.

RURAL HEALTH BILL: U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., last week introduced the Increasing Rural Health Access During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Act.

The bill would invest $50 million in rural communities to increase access to telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislation would create a grant program that would help communities acquire the technology needed for telemedicine programs.

“We must continue to work towards innovative solutions to expand access to health care and make sure our rural communities aren’t left behind,” Torres Small said in a news release.

Scott Turner: sturner@abqjournal.com

 

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