During the opening weeks of the 113th Congress, a number of American Legion-favored bills were introduced in both congressional chambers. These measures include:
H.R. 32, the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act. The measure would "repeal the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan for military surviving spouses to offset the receipt of veterans dependency and indemnity compensation."
H.R. 303, the Retired Pay Restoration Act. The measure would "permit additional retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related Special Compensation and to eliminate the phase-in period under current law with respect to such concurrent receipt."
H.R. 333, the Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act. The measure would "permit retired members of the Armed Forces, who have a service-connected disability rated less than 50 percent, to receive concurrent payment of both retired pay and veterans' disability compensation, to eliminate the phase-in period for concurrent receipt, and to extend eligibility for concurrent receipt to chapter 61 disability retirees with less than 20 years of service.
Additional legislation introduced includes:
Stolen Valor Act
On Jan. 15, U.S. House Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., introduced H.R. 258, the Stolen Valor Act of 2013. And on Feb. 4, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate. The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 would enhance current federal legislation that punishes those who falsely represent themselves as decorated military heroes. A provision in the proposed law would authorize criminal prosecution of those who lie about being awarded certain medals and decorations in order to gain veterans benefits.
The medals and decorations defined in the existing Stolen Valor Act are the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart. The proposed Stolen Valor Act of 2013 adds the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Combat Action Badge, Combat Medical Badge, Combat Action Ribbon and Combat Action Medal.
On Jan. 23, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., introduced House Joint Resolution (H.J. Res.) 19, a bill proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States giving Congress power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States. The American Legion has supported similar legislation since 1990, and has led efforts for passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the flag.
American Legion Family members are encouraged to contact their House members and ask them to become cosponsors of H.J. Res. 19. A Senate companion bill has not yet been introduced.