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Tamar Hallerman

Bill would strip John Lewis of naval ship namesake

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Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, U.S. Rep. John Lewis and a rendering of a new ship named for Lewis. (Courtesy: Office of John Lewis)

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, U.S. Rep. John Lewis and a rendering of a new ship named for Lewis in January. (Courtesy: Office of John Lewis)

Atlanta Democrat John Lewis would be blocked from receiving a U.S. naval ship namesake under a bill introduced in the U.S. House yesterday.

Sponsored by Mississippi Republican Steven Palazzo, the legislation would bar the Navy from naming vessels after lawmakers who have not served as president or in the military. Lewis, a longtime member of Congress who is the last surviving member of the so-called “big six” leaders of the civil rights era, would not be eligible for the honor under that criteria.

The Washington Post quotes a statement from Palazzo that says the amendment “has nothing — absolutely zero — to do with John Lewis or any other member of Congress.”

The Post has more background on the measure, which was introduced as an amendment to the annual Pentagon spending measure scheduled to be debated on the House floor this week:

The ship naming process has been a hot-button issue in some GOP circles in the recent past. (Secretary of the Navy Ray) Mabus, who was appointed by President Obama in 2009, has been criticized for bending traditions to name ships for figures including civil rights activist Cesar Chavez and former Rep. Gabriel Giffords (D-Ariz.), who survived an assassination attempt at a 2011 event in her district.

A spokeswoman for Lewis did not respond to a request for comment.

Mabus revealed the USNS John Lewis in January, the first in a new class of fleet replacement oilers.