Category Archives: Military Issues

Senators Seek to Prevent Disruptions at Military Funerals

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced legislation today “to amend existing federal funeral protest laws to help prevent disruptions at military funerals,” according to a press release from her office.

Entitled the Sanctity of Eternal Rest for Veterans, or “SERVE” Act, the measure defines the time and place for protests at funerals, and it provides clear remedies and increased penalties when conduct at military funeral services is not protected by the First Amendment.  Joining Senator Snowe in introducing the measure are Senators Dan Coats (R-IN), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John Hoeven (R-ND), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

Specifics:

Specifically, the SERVE Act would increase the quiet time before and after military funeral services from 60 minutes to 120 minutes; increase from 150 feet to 300 feet the buffer around a military funeral service and increase from 300 feet to 500 feet the buffer around access routes to a funeral service area; and increase civil penalties on violators.

Read the bill here.

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Sixty Senators Support Continuing Military Pay

The Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) now has the support of 60 Senators, according to her office.

The legislation would make sure that military personnel continue to be paid in the event of a government shutdown.

More information here.

Update: In floor remarks this afternoon, Senator Hutchison announced that 74 Senators now support this legislation.

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Senators Want Military Pay Protected if Government Shuts Down

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) has introduced legislation today aimed at making sure that “military personnel continue to be paid in the event of a government shutdown,” according to a press release from her office.

The Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act would “make available the necessary funds to prevent an interruption in pay for members of the military if there is a funding gap resulting from a government shutdown.”

Additionally, a provision is included to give the Secretary of Defense the discretion to allow those who serve as DOD civilians or contractors in support of our men and women in uniform to continue to be paid as well.

[…]

The Defense Department has yet to establish concrete guidelines as to how a possible shutdown would affect service members’ pay, but a draft planning memo did mention that all military personnel would be required to show up to work, regardless of whether they would be paid during the shutdown.

Current sponsors:

The lead Democrat cosponsor is Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) and the lead Republican cosponsor is Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). Other cosponsors include Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).

Update (4/7): Hutchison’s office says this bill now has 44 Senators supporting it.

Update (4/8): There are now 60 Senators supporting this measure. Further updates here.

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Senators Introduce the Military Detainee Procedures Improvement Act

Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Scott Brown (R-MA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced the Military Detainee Procedures Improvement Act today, according to a press release.

Their bill consists of “nine major provisions designed to be consistent with, and reaffirm, the Authorization for Use of Military Force enacted overwhelmingly by Congress after the horrific attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” 

The provisions, per the release:

  1. Reaffirms the President’s authority to detain members of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and affiliated terrorist groups based on the authority granted by Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
  2. Requires members of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and affiliated terrorist groups be held in military custody when captured, unless the Secretary of Defense certifies civilian custody is a national security interest.
  3. Permanent restrictions on transferring Guantanamo detainees to foreign countries, requiring greater scrutiny on the security situation and ability of the host country to monitor a detainee. 
    • Requires the Secretary of Defense to invoke a national security waiver if a detainee is to be transferred to a country where former detainees have returned to the fight.
  4. Permanent prohibitions on funding alternatives to the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in the United States.
    • The American people and a bipartisan majority of Congress have rejected civilian trials in the United States for those directly responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001 – as an example, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM).
  5. Requires the Secretary of Defense to set out and submit to Congress new uniform procedures for annual review to determine whether detainees can safely be released. 
    • Recommendations for transfer of detainees would be made by a panel of experts in military operations, intelligence, and anti-terrorism.
  6. Requires the Secretary of Defense to create and report to Congress new uniform procedures to establish the status of detainees before any individual is subject to long-term detention under the Law of War. 
  7. Clarifies the right to plead guilty in death penalty cases in military commissions.
  8. Establishes a Sense of Congress to provide the President with the authority to target and take lethal action against individuals – such as Anwar al-Awlaki, the leading propagandist and operational planner for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who is linked to both the Fort Hood attack and the attempt to blow up an airliner and 300 innocent passengers on Christmas Day, 2009, near Detroit.
  9. Establishes a Sense of Congress that members of al-Qaeda, and affiliated terrorist groups, who have long been detained under the Law of War, be tried by military commission at Guantanamo Bay. 

Senator McCain is Ranking Member on the Armed Services Committee. Senator Lieberman chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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McCain Will Help Make DADT Repeal Work

Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) “said Thursday that he would work to help implement the repeal of the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, despite his opposition to that legislation,” The Hill reports.

McCain signaled that he had made peace with the lame-duck bill to do away with the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian service members, of which he had been an outspoken critic.

"I think I have to do everything I can to make sure that the important moral, retention, recruitment, and battle effectiveness of the military is minimized as much as possible," McCain said on Fox Business. "It is a law and I have to do whatever I can to help the men and women who are serving particularly in combat cope with this new situation. I will do everything I can to make it work."

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