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ARLINGTON, Va. — Supporters of legislation to give all stop-lossed servicemembers an extra $2,000 per month vowed to fight on Friday after a failed attempt to insert the measure into the Senate defense appropriations.

The amendment was introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., on Thursday, the day the Senate voted on the spending bill.

Lautenberg said the bonus would be retroactive to March 2003, and cover all military services.

Stop-loss restrictions prevent servicemembers from retiring or leaving the service at their scheduled time.

Each service has applied stop-loss restrictions at one time or another since Sept. 11, 2001. But the only service with restrictions currently in place is the Army, which has a “unit stop loss” policy in place since January 2002 that affects both active and reserve components tapped for duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.

About 45,000 soldiers have been prevented from leaving the Army because of stop loss, Maj. Gen. Franklin L. “Buster” Hagenbeck, the Army’s chief for personnel matters, said earlier this month, and the Army intends to keep using stop loss for Iraq and Afghanistan-bound troops for “several years.”

Right now, over 10,000 soldiers are affected by stop loss, one-third of whom are Army Reserve or National Guard, Lautenberg said.

The senator’s count could not be verified. Pentagon and Army officials did not respond to queries by deadline.

If the stop-loss bonus amendment had passed as part of the Senate appropriations bill, it would have automatically taken effect, according to Lautenberg legislative assistant Dafna Hochman.

But Senate leaders decline to allow the amendment to be introduced during the floor debate on the appropriations bill, Hochan said Friday.

“It was a worthy try,” she said.

There are several fall-back plans for the measure at this point, Hochan said.

Backers could introduce the provision as a stand-alone legislation, or to try to attach the provision as an amendment to another bill, Hochman said.

A final option would be to attach the measure to a defense budget supplemental request, which the Bush administration has indicated it plans to submit in January in order to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan, Hochman said.

Regardless of the challenges, it is essential to keep the pressure on, said 1st Lt. Paul Rieckhoff, an Army National Guardsman who recently returned from a year in Iraq.

“Two thousand dollars is a lot of money to a lower enlisted troop on the ground,” Rieckhoff said during a Thursday press conference with Lautenberg.

Ada Eagle, mother of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ron Eagle, who is now in Iraq, agreed.

She said of her son, a West Virginia National Guardsman and former active Air Force member, put in his retirement papers after 20 years of service in October 2003, only to be activated and stop-lossed the following month.

“He’s doing overtime right now,” Ada Eagle told Stripes on Thursday. “So pay him overtime.”

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