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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

Rep. Bass Signs Letters Calling for a Permanent Fix for California National Guard Members

October 28, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressmember Karen Bass (D-Calif.) was a signatory on two bipartisan sign on letters to House Leadership and the Department of Defense (DoD) calling for a permanent solution to the financial burden facing thousands of servicemembers and veterans of the California Nation Guard. The letters, drafted by Acting Ranking Member Mark Takano and receiving bipartisan Congressional support, followed the DoD announcement that it was suspending efforts to collect improperly offered enlistment bonuses given to 9,700 California National Guard members as far back as ten years ago during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  For many, this has resulted in financial hardship ranging from wage garnishments, to tax liens for those unable to or refusing to pay. 

“The Pentagon relied on these courageous servicemen and women to fight not one, but two wars. I commend the DoD for halting collection, but we cannot continue to fail them,” said Rep. Bass. “We must further act to ensure the soldiers whose lives have been changed as a result of widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials receive proper reimbursement for the collections they have already paid the government,” Rep. Bass continued. “I thank Representative Takano for leading the charge in calling for House Leadership and the Department of Defense to find a permanent resolution to the financial burden placed on these individuals.”

The overpayments were discovered following a federal audit which found paperwork errors committed by the California National Guard when awarding enlistment bonuses. Those responsible pleaded guilty and were held accountable.

The letter to the Department of Defense, signed by a bipartisan group of 108 Members of Congress, advises Defense Secretary Ash Carter and National Guard Bureau Chief General Joseph L. Lengyel that “any permanent solution should also make servicemembers who acted in good faith whole if they have already repaid the Department.”

The letter to House Leadership, signed by a bipartisan group of 106 Members of Congress, asks Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer to act “should the Department [of Defense] need additional guidance or authority to end the unfair recoupments for those who acted in good faith and make servicemembers whole.”

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Contact: Derrick Robinson
(202) 215-4420
Derrick.Robinson@mail.house.gov