Current Status of Cold War Service Medal Legislation in the US Congress --
COLD WAR SERVICE MEDAL INCLUDED IN S.3454, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2011 (Senate version)
June 11, 2010
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2011 (Senate bill -- S.3454) contains a provision for a Cold War Service Medal, but leaves determining who would qualify up to the Secretary of Defense. Section 566 of the NDAA for 2011 reads as follows:
SEC. 566. COLD WAR SERVICE MEDAL.
(a) Medal Authorized- The Secretary of Defense may authorize the issuance by the Secretaries concerned of a service medal, to be known as the `Cold War Service Medal” , to persons eligible to receive the medal under the regulations under subsection (b).
(1) IN GENERAL- The issuance of a Cold War Service Medal under this section shall be subject to regulations prescribed by Secretary of Defense.
(2) ELEMENTS- The regulations shall--
(A) provide for an appropriate design for the Cold War Service Medal; and
(B) specify the persons eligible to receive the medal.
(c) Secretaries Concerned Defined- In this section, the term `Secretaries concerned' has the meaning given that term in section 101(a)(9) of title 10, United States Code.
Present status of S.3454: This version of the NDAA was reported out by the Armed Services Committee, and id being placed on the Senate calendar for consideration and vote. It is likely to be considered by the full Senate in July or September (Senate is in recess from the first week of August until after Labor Day). After being debated and passed, the NDAA goes to the House-Senate Conference – probably in October, depending on scheduling.
The section on the Cold War Service Medal in the Senate bill is pretty non-controversial, and should pass with the rest of the NDAA. However, no such provision is contained in the House Bill. Because both House and Senate versions must be reconciled into a single bill, they will be taken up in the Conference Committee (the Conference Committee usually includes all members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and about two-thirds of the members of the House Armed Services Committee) to produce the final language of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is then returned to House and Senate for final passage and sent to the President to be signed into law.
Our analysis: The language in the Senate NDAA is ideal from our point of view. It leaves determining qualification for the medal entirely up to the Secretary of Defense. Thus, it respects his prerogatives and should be more acceptable to DOD. It does call for issuance of regulations and design of the medal, but the budgetary impact of this in FY2011 should be minimal (i.e., if regulations are issued at the end of the FY period, any cost of production and distribution could be deferred to a future year).
Legislative history and strategy: Since 1997, when the first Cold War medal was proposed (and passed by the Senate), Conference has been a problem. In 2001, when the medal was passed by both House and Senate, DOD appealed to the Conference and the authorization was modified to a recommendation that the Secretary “consider awarding” such a medal. In other years, the medal was stripped out of the final bill due to issues of cost and duplication of recognition,
The current Senate bill should not encounter these objections – it does not set criteria, but leaves that up to the Secretary of Defense. From our perspective, it is better to get this award authorized once and for all. Certainly, we can rely on the good faith of Secretary Gates. The Cold War Service Medal certainly does not in any way duplicate the “Cold War Recognition Certificate,” since that certificate can be given to any civilian employee, does not mention military service, and does not have any qualifying requirement beyond a single day of employment.
Given the language in the Senate NDAA, we should seek support from members of the House Armed Services Committee for this same language. We also need to seek support for that provision from the White House and the Defense Department. Our chances of inclusion in the final NDAA appear to be better this year, and we will work toward that goal.
Frank M. Tims, Ph.D.
American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
The House bill H.R. 4051 was introduced by Representative Steve Israel (D-NY). It was referred to the House Armed Services Committee for further consideration. This bill has 41 co-sponsors.
House Bill: The House of Representatives has generally been supportive of past efforts to get a Cold War Service medal passed, but we must get as many co-sponsors as possible. Members of the Armed Services Committee are Representatives Skelton (MO), McKeon (CA), Spratt (SC), Bartlett (MD), Ortiz (TX), Thornberry (TX), Taylor (MS), Jones (NC), Abercrombie (HI), Akin (MO), Reyes (TX), Forbes (VA), Snyder (AR), Miller (FL), Smith (WA), Wilson (SC), Sanchez (CA), LoBiondo (NJ), McIntyre (NC), Bishop (UT), Brady (PA), Turner (OH), Andrews (NJ), Kline (MN), Davis (CA), Rogers (AL), Langevin (RI), Franks (AZ), Larsen (WA), Shuster (PA), Cooper (TN), Rodgers (WA), Marshall (GA), Conaway (TX), Bordallo (Guam), Lamborn (CO), Ellsworth (IN), Wittman (VA), Murphy (PA), Fallin (OK), Johnson (GA), Hunter (CA), Shea-Porter (NH), Fleming (LA), Courtney (CT), Coffman (CO), Loebsack (IA), Rooney (FL), Sestack (PA), Platts (PA), Giffords (AZ), Tsongas (MA), Nye (VA), Pingree (ME), Kissell (NC), Weinrigh (NM), Kratovil (MD), Massa (NY), Bright (AL), Murphy (NY), and Boren (OK).
We must continue to gain support in the House of Representatives. Please help us get cosponsors for a Cold War Service Medal. Contact information for Members of the House, is at www.house.gov.