Confederate flag ban for Defense Department property included in House spending bill

Abbie Bennett
July 01, 2020 - 1:09 pm
A Confederate Navy jack flag sits at the base of Confederate Mound, a memorial to more than 4,000 Confederate prisoners of war who died in captivity at Camp Douglas and are buried around the monument,

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

About 12 hours after the president threatened to veto a defense spending bill in the Senate if it included a measure to rename military bases honoring Confederate leaders, House lawmakers included a Confederate flag ban in their version.

As part of House Armed Services Committee debate of the massive annual defense spending bill, committee lawmakers passed, without objection, language to "prohibit the public display of the Confederate battle flag at all Department of Defense property." 

Previously, the Navy, Marine Corps and U.S. Forces Korea all banned displaying the flag without an overall directive from the Pentagon. Lawmakers' move followed the Army announcing it would not ban the flags from its installations without an order from top military leaders.

The ban itself extends to all Pentagon property, indoors and outdoors, including military offices and other workspaces, break rooms, and living quarters such as barracks, along with personal apparel such as clothing and items like bumper stickers. 

Those who violate the ban could be punished under the provision. 

House lawmakers' measure was originally proposed by Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., an Iraq War veteran. The measure includes exceptions for museum exhibits, state-approved vanity license plates and gravesites of Confederate troops. 

But the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes hundreds of measures from troop pay increases to major defense purchases and military health care, still has a long road ahead in Washington before it comes to a vote or becomes law. The Confederate flag ban in the House version still has to survive negotiations with the Senate in the weeks ahead, which often see measures left behind before approval from both the full House and Senate. 

And President Donald Trump has already threatened to veto the Senate version of the bill over Confederate debate. The president said he would veto the bill if it included language requiring the Pentagon to rename military installations honoring Confederate leaders.

Senate lawmakers, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., pushed to include a requirement for DoD to change those names within one year, but that measure also must survive upcoming legislative debate in Congress if it has a chance of making it into the final version. House lawmakers also were expected to consider a similar measure Wednesday. 

The president recently threatened to enforce a little-known 2003 law intended to preserve veterans' memorials, which criminalizes damaging veteran memorials, against those targeting Confederate statues across the country. Under the 2003 statute, anyone convicted of those acts could be fined and/or imprisoned for up to 10 years. 

Trump also previously said he "will not even consider" renaming military bases honoring Confederate leaders.


Senators push to rename military bases honoring Confederate leaders within one year

President 'will not even consider' renaming military bases honoring Confederate leaders

Trump warns of 10 years in prison for monument vandalism under Veterans' Memorial Preservation Act


Reach Abbie Bennett: or @AbbieRBennett.

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