December 12, 2017

Harris Amendment on Military Funerals Honors Programs Enacted in NDAA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris’ bipartisan provision aiming to end limitations to the National Guard’s service providing military funeral honors for veterans, was enacted as a part of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“This bipartisan amendment directly responds to the needs of the National Guard and supports members of the military, veterans, and their families,” Harris said. “I’m proud to work with members of both parties to support the military and defense community in California and across the country, and the Guard’s ability to conduct military funeral honors. The brave men and women who have sacrificed so much on behalf of our nation’s security deserve better.”

"The enactment of Senator Harris' amendment supporting the Military Funeral Honors program is critically important for the California National Guard and is an important step to ensure our fallen warriors and veterans are never forgotten, " said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General of the California National Guard. "On behalf of California's Soldiers and Airmen, we are deeply appreciative of Senator Harris' leadership on this vital issue and hope we can find a permanent solution to ensure the Military Funeral Honors program continues."

Harris’ amendment requires that the Secretary of Defense conduct a report about the National Guard’s ability to perform military funerals. Members of the Guard who volunteer for this duty face a mandated termination of their orders at the end of three years, per existing Department of Defense regulations. This mandatory termination requires states to recruit and train suitable replacements for conducting this sacred duty, and forces states to impose a rapid rate of professional turnover. Current restrictions are creating military funeral backlogs in states with large veteran populations, such as California.

This amendment was co-sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).