An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have stopped a Navy supply ship from being named after Congressman John Lewis was rejected by the House Rules Committee Tuesday evening. The Washington Post reports that Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi’s amendment would have prevented Navy ships from being named after “any member of Congress, living or deceased, unless such member served as the President of the United States or as a member of the Armed Forces.”
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced in January that Lewis would be honored by having the ship named after him. According to the Post, some Republicans are concerned about how ships have been named.
The ship naming process has been a hot-button issue in some GOP circles in the recent past. 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.
Earlier this year, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) wrote Mabus questioning the naming of a ship after Levin for reasons similar to those Palazzo has raised, according to DefenseNews.
The Navy rarely names ships for living persons. Since 1973, around 20 U.S. military ships have been named for people who were alive and six have been announced since January 2012, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The habit of naming pubic works after living people isn’t limited to the Navy, of course. In Metro Atlanta, a portion of Memorial Drive in DeKalb County is the Cynthis McKinney Highway, named after the controversial Democrat who represented the 4th District.
Note: This post has been updated to remove a reference to former Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis.