Dem divide over Confederate bases threatens massive defense bill

“There’s a disagreement among members on this,” Rep. Anthony Brown of Maryland, a top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Monday. “If there was ever a reason to delay the reauthorization until we get it right, it certainly would be one of them.”

Democrats have just a couple of weeks to reconcile their differences in the waning days of this Congress or risk breaking a nearly six-decade streak of sending an annual defense policy bill to the president’s desk.

Some Democrats are privately worried that House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith is more concerned with a timely passage of his bill than eliminating a shameful remnant of the nation’s pro-slavery past at a time when America is undergoing a reckoning over racial justice.

Smith vehemently disputed this accusation, calling it “absolutely not true.” The Washington state Democrat also underscored the importance of passing the defense policy legislation before the end of the year.