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Posted at 7:05 PM ET, 12/ 8/2010

Va.'s Wittman signs onto bill on Arlington Cemetery accountability

By Fredrick Kunkle

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) has signed on to the U.S. House bill that would require the Army to give an accounting of every grave in Arlington National Cemetery.

"I'm proud to champion this effort to ensure Arlington remains a sacred shrine to sacrifices of this nation's military service members and honored veterans," Wittman, who represents parts of Prince William County, Fredericksburg and other Northern Virginia areas, said in a written statement.

The bill, HR6496, is a companion to legislation that passed the Senate on Saturday in the wake of a growing scandal at what is America's most hallowed military cemetery. Congress has held hearings and the Army has opened a criminal investigation after the discovery of hundreds of serious mix-ups and lapses in burials.

Last June, the cemetery's superintendent and deputy were ousted after the Army inspector general found that more than 200 grave sites had been left unmarked or identified incorrectly, despite federal spending of $5 million to $8 million on multiple contracts to modernize the cemetery's antiquated record-keeping.

The Senate measure, sponsored by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and others, would also require the secretary of the army to advise Congress on progress reforming the oversight of contracts at the cemetery and its efforts to improve communication with the loved ones of service members who have been buried there.

The House bill was filed late Wednesday by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

By Fredrick Kunkle  | December 8, 2010; 7:05 PM ET
Categories:  Arlington County, Fredrick Kunkle, Rob Wittman, _National  
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