H.R. 4336, Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act, as amended

H.R. 4336

Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act, as amended

Date
March 22, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Molly Newell

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, March 22, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4336, the Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act, as amended under suspension of the rules. H.R. 4336 was introduced on January 6, 2016 by Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in addition to the Committee on Armed Services. The Veterans’ Affairs Committee ordered H.R. 4336 reported in the Nature of a Substitute by voice vote on February 25, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4336 would ensure the cremated remains of individuals, whom the Secretary of Defense has determined to be Active Duty Designees as of the date of enactment, would be eligible for inurnment in Arlington National Cemetery with military honors. No later than 180 days after this bill is enacted, the Secretary of the Army would be required submit a report to Congress on the interment and inurnment capacity of Arlington National Cemetery.

Background

In September 1942, General Henry H. Arnold formed the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). In this program, there were 1,074 civilian women pilots, known as WASPs, who ferried over 50% of the combat aircraft within the United States during World War II. Thirty-eight of these women died in service. [1]

At the end of the war, Congress voted against formally militarizing the WASP program. It was not until 1977 that the GI Bill Improvement Act of 1977 (Pub. L. 95-202) codified that the WASPs should be considered active duty for purposes of all laws administered by the Veterans Administration. Between 2002 and last year, WASPs, Merchant Mariners, and members of all 35 Active Duty Designee groups were eligible for inurnment in Arlington National Cemetery.

However, in 2015, then-Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced the GI Bill Improvement Act of 1977 did not make Active Duty Designees eligible for inurnment in Arlington National Cemetery because the cemetery is run by the Army, not the Veterans Administration. This legislation would restore the WASPs and other Active Duty Designees with inurnment rights.

According to the bill sponsor, in reference to the WASPs, “These women fought, and died, in service to their country. They trained in the military style: sleeping on metal cots, marching, and living under military discipline. They deserve the full honors we give our war heroes.”[2]

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[1] See Air Force Historical Support Division’s, “Women’s Airforce Service Pilots,” Sept. 8, 2015.
[2] See Rep. McSally Press Release, “U.S. Rep. McSally Introduces Bill to Restore Inurnment Rights for WASPs at Arlington National Cemetery,” Jan. 6, 2016.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 4336 would cost less than $500,000 over the 2017-2021 period in discretionary funding. Enacting H.R. 4336 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. Additionally, CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4336 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Molly Newell with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.