Washington, D.C. – Last week Congressman Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, introduced H.R. 4879the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Support Act, which would protect Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) civilian employees who are involved in the recovery and identification of the battlefield remains of U.S. military personnel from termination of service or payroll furloughs in the event of a government shutdown.  Many recovery operations are conducted in countries like Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines where rainy season conditions restrict the time available for suitable recovery operations.  The U.S. has a commitment to leave no servicemember behind and H.R. 4879 would not allow budgetary disagreements to disrupt and delay recovery missions that bring American heroes home to their families.

“The United States has always strived to uphold our commitment to leaving no servicemember behind,” said Rep. Lynch.  “DPAA employees conduct essential recovery missions to retrieve those who gave their lives for their country and their critical work should not be interrupted or delayed due to a fiscal disagreement.  It is our collective duty and determination as a nation to bring America’s heroes home and this bill will better allow us to keep that promise.”

In the event of a government shutdown, agency employees such as anthropologists, archeologists, life support analysts and other civilian workers are required to take at least two furlough days every pay period, thereby halting ongoing operations.  As part of a Congressional Delegation visit to South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and the DPAA headquarters on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Rep. Lynch observed and interacted with members of the DPAA to discuss the process of DPAA identification and recovery operations.  The agency reported that furloughs had a detrimental impact on DPAA search and recovery missions, which range on average between 35 and 45 days in duration.

In addition to H.R. 4879, Rep. Lynch plans to hold a bipartisan oversight hearing on the Subcommittee on National Security to examine these critical issues that impact the DPAA and their work.

The text of H.R. 4879the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Support Act, can be found here.

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