CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, May 23, 2011, the House is scheduled consider H.R. 1627 under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The resolution was introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) on April 15, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Veterans Affairs. The full Committee considered the bill and held a mark-up session on May 12, 2011, with the bill passing by voice vote.
H.R. 1627 would allow a monument other than one containing or marking interred remains to be placed in Arlington National Cemetery (Arlington) only if the monument commemorates: (1) the military service of the individual or group whose memory is honored by the monument, or (2) a particular military event.
The bill would prohibit any monument from being placed in Arlington until the end of the 25-year period beginning on the last day of the service or event commemorated.
The bill would also allow a monument to be placed only in those sections of Arlington designated by the Secretary of the Army and only on land determined by the Secretary as unsuitable for burial.
The bill would allow a monument to be placed in Arlington only if an appropriate non-governmental entity has agreed to act as a sponsoring organization to coordinate the monument's placement and: (1) monument construction and placement are paid for using only private funds, (2) the Secretary consults with the Commission of Fine Arts before approving the monument's design, and (3) the sponsoring organization provides for an independent study on the availability and suitability of alternative monument locations outside of Arlington.
Additionally, the bill would authorize the Secretary to waive the 25-year requirement when the monument would commemorate a group of individuals who the Secretary determines: (1) has made valuable contributions to the Armed Forces that have been ongoing and perpetual for longer than 25 years and are expected to continue indefinitely, and (2) has provided service that is of such a character that failure to place a monument to the group in Arlington would present a manifest injustice.
Finally, the bill would also require the Department of the Army to submit a report within 180 days detailing the number of reservation requests made to Arlington before January 1, 1962; the number of gravesites that were reserved because of such requests; the number of reserved gravesites that are unoccupied; the number of reservations approved by Arlington management; the measures being taken to improve transparency and accountability regarding gravesite reservations at Arlington; and recommendations for possible legislative action to improve transparency and accountability.
H.R. 1627 would codify current practice at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) regarding the type, placement, and funding of commemorative monuments, and the current prohibition on the reservation of gravesites. Under the legislation, no gravesite could be reserved for any individuals before their death unless the request was submitted prior to January 1, 1962.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 1627 would cost less than $500,000 in 2012, assuming availability of the necessary appropriations. Enacting H.R. 1484 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.