Stolen Valor Act, other efforts left out of defense bill
WASHINGTON — The conference report for the annual defense authorization bill totals more than 1,600 pages, but it still doesn’t include everything that defense advocates were hoping for. Here’s a look at a few of the key items left on the negotiation-room floor:
-- A new Stolen Valor Act: Veterans groups were hoping for new legislation making it illegal to falsely claim military honors, to replace the law struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this year. But concerns over the penalties for such lies and the constitutionality of new proposals scuttled the idea.
-- More base closures: The White House and Pentagon officials had advocated another BRAC round as a long-term cost savings measure, but lawmakers soundly rejected the idea as too costly in the short term and too traumatic for local communities dependent on their military neighbors.
-- Protection from indefinite detention: Senators inserted language in their draft designed to limit the military’s use of indefinite detention of terrorism suspects who are U.S. citizens, in reaction to the open-ended imprisonment of some foreign fighters. But the language was largely tossed out in the final version.
-- The full request for military construction: The proposed budget bill includes $633.3 billion in defense funding and more than $10 billion for base construction and military family housing projects. But lawmakers cut about $660 million from the president’s total request for those accounts, which could trim some projects.
-- Purple Hearts for Fort Hood victims: House Republicans have pushed for years to recognize the victims of the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, in the same way as casualties of the battlefield in Afghanistan, because of the nature of the attack. But that idea was watered down to a report on the issue in the Senate version, and left out of the final draft.