Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Some congressional Democrats disagree.
Things are often named for former presidents.
The CIA’s headquarters is named after George H.W. Bush, as are Houston’s largest airport and a Navy aircraft carrier. The EPA’s headquarters is named after Bill Clinton. A Navy submarine is named after Jimmy Carter. A Washington, D.C. area airport, public transit station, and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s headquarters are all named after Ronald Reagan.
Will similar honors be awarded to Donald Trump?
What the bill does
The No Glory for Hate Act would prevent any federal symbol, monument, statue, building, or land from being named after a president who has been impeached twice by the House of Representatives. The bill spells out several specific examples, including military bases, highways, streets, and subways. (The Washington, D.C. public transit system has a station named after Ronald Reagan.)
As private properties, Trump Tower and Trump-branded hotels and golf courses would remain unaffected.
Trump’s name does not actually appear once in the legislative text. Yet Trump is the only president to have been impeached twice by the House, so in practice the bill would only apply to him — at least so far. The Democratic-led House impeached Trump twice: first on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for Trump’s threat to withhold foreign aid to Ukraine unless the country investigated his political rival Joe Biden, then for inciting the Capitol Hill riot.
It was introduced in the House on January 25 as bill H.R. 484, by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA38).
What supporters say
Supporters argue that Trump’s actions render him undeserving of any such naming honors.
“I remember getting the horrifying news that no one was coming to help us — that the National Guard had not gotten approval — while police officers were being beaten and overrun,” Rep. Sánchez said in a press release, recounting the January 6 attack on the Capitol Building. “I thought, no one who stirs up this seditionist act should ever be held to the same high standards we hold for our former presidents who served with grace.”
“Even though Trump is no longer in office, he should still be held accountable for his actions and the taxpayers should not foot the bill for his future actions,” Rep. Sánchez continued. “I can’t imagine sending students in Southern California — or anywhere in America — to a school named in honor of a traitorous president.”
What opponents say
Opponents may counter that the Senate acquitted Trump in his first impeachment trial, and as of this writing appears poised to do the same for his second impeachment trial soon. Should a president who was never actually found guilty by the upper chamber nonetheless be subject to this bill’s punishing provisions?
One person who doesn’t want Trump banned from potentially appearing on federal monuments is Trump himself. He once tweeted that it would be “a good idea” if his face appeared on Mount Rushmore alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
Even Trump’s opponents may oppose this bill for a more ironic reason: preserving the potential to name something negative after Trump. After Last Week Tonight host John Oliver insulted Danbury, Connecticut on his show, the town named their sewage treatment plant after him. (Specifically, they named it “The John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant,” even though he’s still alive.)
Odds of passage
The bill has attracted 13 cosponsors, all Democrats. It awaits a potential vote in any of five House committees, any of which could have jurisdiction over naming of federal properties such as military bases, lands, or transportation hubs: Armed Services, Natural Resources, Oversight and Reform, Transportation and Infrastructure, or Veterans’ Affairs.