Senate Passes Defense Bill With Provision Removing Confederate Names From Bases

President Donald Trump threatened to veto the $740 billion spending bill over the military base provision.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, a $740 billion bill setting policy for the Pentagon that President Donald Trump has threatened to veto over a provision removing Confederate names from military bases.

The vote was 86-14, one of the few times the Republican-led Senate has broken from the president, and could pave the way for a fight later this year with the White House.

The Senate and Democratic-led House of Representatives each passed versions of the bill, known as the NDAA, with far more than the two-thirds majorities needed to override a veto.

The House bill also voted to include a provision to change the names of military facilities named after generals who fought on the pro-slavery side during the Civil War 155 years ago.

Tributes to the Confederacy, and slave owners - like base names and statues - have come under increasing scrutiny amid widespread protests over racial injustice sparked by police killings of Black Americans.

Now that the House and Senate have both passed versions of the bill, congressional negotiators will spend several weeks negotiating on a final, compromise NDAA, reconciling differences between the two versions.

That compromise must pass both chambers before it can be sent for Trump’s signature or veto.

The requirement to change the base names is likely to survive the process because it was passed by both chambers. Senate Republicans, who rarely break from Trump and have never overridden one of his vetoes, have urged the president to back off his veto threat.

One difference is that the Senate bill does not include an amendment - offered by Republican Senator Mitt Romney - that would have restrained Trump’s plan to move troops from Germany to other parts of Europe.

The House bill includes such a provision.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Peter Cooney)

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