U.S. House approves bill to restore National Guard's lost benefitsby Brett Neely, Minnesota Public Radio
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill tonight that restores paid leave to several hundred members of Minnesota's National Guard who served in Kuwait and Afghanistan.
The 2,700 members of Minnesota's Red Bulls got an unexpected surprise when they returned to the U.S. Partway through the Red Bulls overseas service, the U.S. Department of Defense changed how much leave Guard members could accrue, costing many members nearly a month's worth of paid leave.
Minnesota Republican Congressman John Kline said the Pentagon has the right to change its personnel policies, but disliked how policy was changed for members already deployed.
"My problem is that they put a new program in and then changed the rules for the people who were already deployed," Kline said.
Kline is author of the legislation that restores the lost leave for the Red Bulls and thousands of other Guard members. He introduced the measure with strong bipartisan support from the state's delegation.
Speaking on the floor of the House, DFL Congressman Tim Walz said the bill would fulfill a promise to the troops.
"It's not so much the financial or the monetary insult. It's the insult to what these folks went through," Walz said. "When they went, they were promised a benefit. When they came back, we had cut it in half."
DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has introduced a similar bill in the Senate and her office is optimistic the measure will pass.