Arlington National Cemetery to Increase Burial Space
Arlington National Cemetery will be expanding, adding the former Navy Annex site to increase burial space, Arlington County announced last Thursday. The U.S. Army had originally proposed a land exchange agreement with Arlington County but opted out, choosing instead to use the entire Navy Annex site, which is situated along Columbia Pike, to expand the historic cemetery.
According to officials, Arlington National Cemetery is expected to run out of burial space by the early 2040s. The acquisition of this new land will provide 38 more acres that will accommodate approximately 50,000 additional burial spaces and keep the cemetery from closing until the mid 2050s, based on current demands.
In addition to the Navy Annex site, the Army will also acquire five acres of land currently owned by Arlington County and more than seven acres of land owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia for the cemetery.
[Back to Top]
House Passes Major Veterans Affairs Reform Bill
Last week, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs and is sending it on to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.
The bill, which passed on a bipartisan 368-55 vote, would make it easier for the VA Secretary to fire department employees, a move that advocates say would improve accountability at the scandal-plagued agency. It would also boost protections for whistleblowers that report wrongdoing, and create an office within the VA to support whistleblower protections.
Congress set its sights on VA reform in 2014, after a whistleblower claimed that roughly 40 veterans died waiting up to 21 months for care at a VA hospital in Phoenix. That scandal led to the resignation of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in May of 2014.
“It’s common sense -– we need to hold our employees accountable for their actions if they violate the public trust, and at the same time protect whistleblowers from retaliation,” VA Secretary David Shulkin, who supported the bill, said in a statement.
Speaking on the House floor, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), said the bill addresses the VA’s “culture of ambivalence” and “lack of accountability.” “Fixing the culture at the VA requires us to acknowledge the great work of the many without leaving them tainted with the incompetence and scandal of the few," he said. "It requires removing the bad apples."
Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), the top Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a statement that the bill “will bring real, long-lasting accountability” to the VA “in a way that will stand up to constitutional muster.”
The bill was criticized by American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 700,000 federal workers. The group claimed the measure is anti-union and would undermine due process for workers. The Senate previously approved the bill on a unanimous voice vote.
[Back to Top]