WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House approved by a 428-2 vote Tuesday a measure preserving Arlington National Cemetery as the most hallowed burial ground of America’s military heroes, eliminating waivers and tightening eligibility requirements.
70 is identical to a measure that passed the House last year 412-0, but
saw no action in the
Senate. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Stump (R-AZ) said he expected the Senate to pass its version of the measure this year.
"We look forward to working with the Senate to see this measure signed into law," Chairman Stump said after passage, "By doing so, we would assure America’s military heroes we still honor their service and sacrifices."
"Arlington National Cemetery Cemetery belongs to our veterans, and we should keep it that way," said Committee member Cliff Stearns (R-FL) before the vote.
H.R. 70 was the first bill Chairman Stump introduced in January. It is designed to make sure only veterans who meet stringent service criteria are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The measure would eliminate automatic eligibility for members of Congress, cabinet members and ambassadors who don’t otherwise meet the military requirements.
Neither Stump, a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, nor ranking Democratic member Lane Evans (D-IL), a Vietnam-era Marine Corps veteran, would be eligible for burial at Arlington under this measure.
The use of waivers and other practices came under the scrutiny of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in the previous Congress. Investigators discovered inconsistencies in granting waivers, including one for a former ambassador later found to have lied about his World War II service.