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Bill would permanently forbid the Pentagon from demanding soldiers repay bonuses that were wrongly awarded  

Murray: “We need to stand by our servicemembers and veterans and make sure our country is fulfilling our promise to care for them after they serve”

(Washington, D.C.)Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) joined several of her Democratic colleagues to introduce legislation to permanently halt efforts to retract reenlistment bonuses and benefits paid to National Guard service members a decade ago. In October, Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered a temporary suspension of all collection efforts and committed to establishing a streamlined process to provide financial relief for affected service members. This bill would provide a permanent solution and ensure relief efforts are uninterrupted in the next administration.

“Requiring anyone who has sacrificed so much to serve our country to repay their reenlistment bonuses is out of the question,” said Senator Murray, a senior member of the Veterans Affairs’ Committee. “Secretary Carter’s move to suspend efforts to reclaim bonuses was a good first step, but more action is necessary to end this for good. We need to stand by our servicemembers and veterans and make sure our country is fulfilling our promise to care for them after they serve, and that starts by making sure they are not penalized by an error that came through no fault of their own.”

According to the Pentagon, almost 10,000 members of the California Army National Guard may have received improper benefits from 2004 to 2010. The bill prevents the Army from recouping those funds from any servicemember who unknowingly received them during that time period. It also requires the Army to reimburse any soldier who has already repaid the government, including interest, and to notify credit agencies that any debt previously reported was invalid. The bill would not cover National Guard members who engaged in fraud or misrepresentation.

Introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Senate bill is cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

The companion legislation was also introduced in the House.

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