“U.S. Navy ships should not be named after politicians and congressmen,’’ Palazzo, a Marine Corps veteran who serves with the Mississippi National Guard, said in a statement. “As a veteran, I believe they should be named after former presidents, war heroes or those who gave their lives in military service of our nation, plain and simple. We have 76 living recipients of the Medal of Honor. I would suggest that the Secretary of the Navy start there.”
Palazzo, a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, tried to add his ship-naming amendment to a fiscal 2017 defense spending bill, but it didn’t make it out of the House Rules Committee this week. The House did vote Thursday on 28 other amendments.
Some Democratic lawmakers said Palazzo’s amendment targeted Lewis.
“I think he’s got a problem,’’ said South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the assistant Democratic leader in the House. “He’s hating on people.’’
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., said it’s long been tradition for the Navy secretary to name ships.
“I don’t understand it,’’ he said of Palazzo’s amendment. “It doesn’t make sense to me.’’
Lewis’ office had no comment.
Mabus’ office also declined comment, but noted that the secretary has named ships in the past after key members of congressional committees. Mabus also named a ship after labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez.
Republicans say Mabus has politicized the ship-naming process and has broken with tradition by naming ships after living people.