Government

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst backs stripping Confederate names from military bases

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, answers questions during an Aug. 20 town hall with employees at DuPont Industrial Biosciences i
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, answers questions during an Aug. 20 town hall with employees at DuPont Industrial Biosciences in Cedar Rapids. Ernst, a combat veteran, said Thursday she supports renaming U.S. military installations bearing the names of Conference generals. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Combat veteran Sen. Joni Ernst supports stripping Confederate generals’ names from U.S. military installations, but said Thursday the conversation sparked by the death of George Floyd must go further.

“I hope that this is not just a one-off — ‘OK, we’re going to focus on it this week and then we’re going to move on to the next issue of the day,’ ” the former Iowa National Guard officer said on a call with reporters. “This is a conversation that we’ve needed to have for a very long time. And so we’re going to continue these conversations.”

A process that could lead to renaming the military bases has been “almost unanimously” approved by the Senate Armed Forces Committee she serves on, Ernst said. The measure calls for a three-year bipartisan commission to review and determine how military installations and other military assets will be dealt with “so that at some point we can really begin to heal some of the racial injustice that we are feeling across the country right now.”

There will be opposition, she said, “but again, it is a discussion that we absolutely need to have.”

That discussion didn’t start with Floyd’s death, but his case has increased the urgency to address issues of race.

“This is a conversation that we’ve needed to have for a very long time,” Ernst said. “I just hope that we all can continue moving forward and have great compassion and just open up our ears a little bit, listen a little more and talk a little less.”

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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