Jan 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Hispanic congressmen push for purge of Confederate renaming panel

Congressman Rep. Joaquin Castro wears a American flkag face mask during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Capitol Hill on September 16, 2020 in Washington, DC.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro wears a face mask during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Capitol Hill on September 16, 2020. PHOTO: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Two Hispanic congressmen, Reps. Joaquin Castro and Ruben Gallego, are asking Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to remove Trump loyalists from a panel charged with renaming 10 Army bases that honor Confederate leaders.

Why it matters: The request, outlined in a letter Friday written by Castro and Gallego, comes as the Biden administration purges remaining Trump-era appointees and as Hispanic and Black leaders demand that some Army bases be renamed after people of color.

Details: Earlier this month, then-Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller appointed four members to a panel created in the annual defense policy legislation that President Trump tried to stop over the renaming of bases.

  • The legislation calls for four members to be appointed by the defense secretary and four others to be named by the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees.
  • The commission is intended to identify Confederate monuments for removal and to issue recommendations on how to rename the bases.

What they're saying: "These commissioners were appointed in the midst of a presidential transition by non-Senate confirmed Acting Secretary of Defense who himself was installed by a President who vetoed the (National Defense Authorization Act) in part due to opposition to renaming bases named after traitors and who incited his followers to stage an insurrection at the Capitol," Castro and Gallego wrote to Austin on Friday.

  • The letter was signed by 18 other members of the Congressional Hispanic Congress.

Between the lines: Mexican American and Black civil rights groups for years have sought to remove the names of Confederate leaders from military bases.

  • The League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation's oldest Latino civil rights group, wants Fort Hood in Texas, named for Confederate General John Bell Hood, to be renamed after Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient Roy Benavidez.
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