The House of Representatives approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, that would allow an American flag to be presented to the family of a federal civilian employee who is killed while on the job.
"This is a modest, but significant benefit to honor federal civilian employees who work within our country and in countless overseas posts," Hanna said in a news release. "Ours is a grateful nation, one that values the sacrifices made in honor of this country. A life can never be repaid, but it can be honored."
Fellow New York Rep. Maurice Hinchey was an original co-sponsor of the measure and shared his thoughts on the legislation in a statement released Wednesday.
"Thousands of federal civilian employees who have sworn an oath to defend the flag have died while performing their official duties," Hinchey said. "Passing this bipartisan bill will allow that sacrifice to be honored through the presentation of an American flag. It is a fitting tribute, which demonstrates our nation's gratitude for those who paid the ultimate price in service to country."
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This vote was originally scheduled for September, but was pushed back when Hanna couldn't make it to Washington D.C. in time because of bad weather.
There was some concern over the bill initially, including a push by the American Legion to amend the bill. Conservative blogger Erick Erickson of RedState criticized the bill in September, labeling it the "Flags for Bureaucrats Act" and called on fellow conservatives to oppose it.
But concerns were addressed in the bill to ensure that American flags would be presented to the next of kin of federal civilian employees killed on the job "criminal act, terrorism, natural disaster, or an extraordinary event as determined by the President," according to Hanna's news release.
According to Hanna's office, he worked with the American Legion to address their concerns.
The passage of the bill also marks a legislative milestone for Hanna, as he is the first freshman House member of either party to have three bills pass this session. His bill to rename the Geneva Post Office in honor of Corporal Steven Riccione passed in July and the Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorate Coin Act passed in October.
Here is a video of Rep. Hanna speaking in support of the Civilian Service Recognition Act on the floor of the House Wednesday: