NATIONAL POW/MIA REMEMBRANCE ACT OF 2015
(House of Representatives - March 21, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 44 (Monday, March 21, 2016)]
[Pages H1469-H1472]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                NATIONAL POW/MIA REMEMBRANCE ACT OF 2015

  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and 
pass the bill (H.R. 1670) to direct the Architect of the Capitol to 
place in the United States Capitol a chair honoring American Prisoners 
of War/Missing in Action.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 1670

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

[[Page H1470]]

  


     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``National POW/MIA Remembrance 
     Act of 2015''.

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

       Congress finds the following:
       (1) In recent years, commemorative chairs honoring American 
     Prisoners of War/Missing in Action have been placed in 
     prominent locations across the United States.
       (2) The United States Capitol is an appropriate location to 
     place a commemorative chair honoring American Prisoners of 
     War/Missing in Action.

     SEC. 3. PLACEMENT OF A CHAIR IN UNITED STATES CAPITOL 
                   HONORING AMERICAN PRISONERS OF WAR/MISSING IN 
                   ACTION.

       (a) Obtaining Chair.--The Architect of the Capitol shall 
     enter into an agreement to obtain a chair featuring the logo 
     of the National League of POW/MIA Families under such terms 
     and conditions as the Architect considers appropriate and 
     consistent with applicable law.
       (b) Placement.--Not later than 2 years after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Architect shall place the chair 
     obtained under subsection (a) in a suitable permanent 
     location in the United States Capitol.

     SEC. 4. FUNDING.

       (a) Donations.--The Architect of the Capitol may--
       (1) enter into an agreement with any organization described 
     in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 
     that is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of that 
     Code to solicit private donations to carry out the purposes 
     of this Act; and
       (2) accept donations of funds, property, and services to 
     carry out the purposes of this Act.
       (b) Costs.--All costs incurred in carrying out the purposes 
     of this Act shall be paid for with private donations received 
     under subsection (a).

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from 
Michigan (Mrs. Miller) and the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Lynch) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Michigan.


                             General Leave

  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that 
all Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks 
on H.R. 1670.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from Michigan?
  There was no objection.
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, the measure before the House today directs the Architect 
of the Capitol to obtain a chair featuring the logo of the National 
League of POW/MIA Families and to prominently place it on display in 
the U.S. Capitol.
  As Members of Congress, certainly we each represent diverse 
congressional districts, but one of the things that ties us together 
are the many brave men and women we represent who stood on the battle 
lines in defense of our Nation's freedom, our liberty, and our way of 
life.
  This legislation introduced by our colleague, Representative Stephen 
Lynch of Massachusetts, honors American prisoners of war and Americans 
missing in action. The chair will serve as a permanent reminder of the 
enormous sacrifice made by those who served our country and were taken 
as POWs or listed as MIA.
  The importance of remembering and honoring their great sacrifice can 
never be overstated. Our Nation has a responsibility to them and to 
their families who have shared in their sacrifice, and we must never 
forget.
  Our heroes deserve to be honored, especially in the U.S. Capitol, 
which is itself a symbol of our American beliefs and the liberties and 
freedoms that they sacrificed to defend.
  This chair will honor veterans like Sam Johnson, one of our 
colleagues here in the House. Sam is one of the most stalwart 
protectors of those who have served and who himself endured nearly 7 
years as a POW, including 42 months in solitary confinement, in the 
infamous Hanoi Hilton.
  Forty-three years ago Sam Johnson returned to the United States to be 
reunited with his loved ones, and we are so honored to have the 
privilege to serve with him today here in this House.
  In addition to Sam Johnson, Mr. Speaker, when I think about the 
meaning behind this memorial, I think about an individual who lives in 
my district. His first name is Donald, but we all call him Digger, 
Digger O'Dell.
  Digger enlisted in 1952 into the Air Force. He was shot down in 
October of 1967, and he, like Sam, was a prisoner in the Hanoi Hilton, 
in Digger's case, for 5\1/2\ years.
  Thankfully, Digger made it home, as Sam did, after all of those years 
in a North Vietnamese camp. He is now in his eighties and serves as a 
member of our local air base community council and chairs a fundraising 
event for the Special Olympics. Digger is a remarkable man. He is one 
of many who selflessly served our Nation facing enormous adversity.
  I might even mention my husband, who was a fighter pilot and is a 
proud member of Vietnam Veterans of America and is now a proud member 
of Chapter 154 of the VVA in Macomb County, which is actually one the 
largest chapters in our entire Nation.
  Again, Mr. Speaker, these heroes who so bravely served our Nation 
deserve to be honored, especially in the U.S. Capitol, and certainly 
this chair with the MIA/POW logo on it will forever demonstrate that we 
will never forget.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentlewoman from Michigan for her 
kind words in support of this bill.
  And I want to thank Mr. Brady, the ranking member on the House 
Administration Committee, for his support as well.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of my bill, H.R. 1670, the National 
POW/MIA Remembrance Act. Before I begin, I want to thank House 
Administration for their great support and staff support as well.
  Mr. Speaker, this bill actually comes from the recognition we all 
share that, in our country, oftentimes the families of POWs and MIAs 
suffer alone.
  And it is through the efforts of groups like Rolling Thunder and 
other veterans' groups who have brought to the forefront the fact that 
we should carry more immediately the memory of the sacrifice of those 
families.
  In my own life, I came to know a man named James Fitzgerald, who was 
a member of Operating Engineers Local 4 in Boston. I worked on a job 
with him. I remember at noontime, when everyone would go off to lunch, 
he would go off into his pickup truck and eat his sandwich by himself.
  Day after day in his lap he would have a tri-corner flag that this 
country gave him in remembrance of his son, who went down as a result 
of enemy fire in Vietnam in the early 1960s.
  It was not until the late 1980s, early 1990s, that his son was 
actually recovered, returned to his family, and buried in 
Massachusetts. For many, many years, the Fitzgerald family carried that 
burden by themselves. They carried it alone.
  I had a chance to travel with JPAC, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting 
Command, to Vietnam, to Korea, and to the South Pacific, the 
Philippines.
  We have 83,000--83,000--men and women from this country that died in 
the Second World War, in Korea, and in Vietnam who are still there.
  About 1,000 remain in Vietnam. About 5,000 remain in North Korea up 
around the Chosin Reservoir. And then the great majority of those MIA 
are buried at sea as a result of the great naval battles in World War 
II. They are buried in place, and their resting places are our sacred 
ground.

  We have an opportunity here to place within the Capitol a 
remembrance, a shrine, in effect, to their sacrifice in remembrance of 
their service to this country. H.R. 1670 would honor them by 
authorizing a placement of a POW/MIA Chair of Honor on the grounds of 
the United States Capitol.
  That chair will forever stand unoccupied as a solemn reminder of the 
over 83,000 brave Americans from as far back as World War II who are 
still waiting to be brought home.
  Chairs of honor carrying the POW/MIA insignia have already been 
placed in public spaces in cities and towns around the country. It is 
only fitting that the Capitol, the seat of the U.S. Congress, should do 
so as well.
  Mr. Speaker, when our fellow Americans go to war, we make them a 
promise never to leave them behind. That vow is sacred. When we pass 
this chair every day, we will be reminded of our commitment to our POW/
MIAs and their families that we have not forgotten them, we will never 
forget them, and we will not rest until they all come home.

[[Page H1471]]

  I want to take a moment to thank Joe D'Entremont, who first 
approached me about undertaking this initiative a couple of years ago. 
He is a past president of Rolling Thunder of Massachusetts Chapter 1 
and is now a Rolling Thunder, Incorporated, National member.
  I want to thank all the members from all the chapters of Rolling 
Thunder from across the country who have kept this idea alive.
  Joe D'Entremont is a passionate advocate on behalf of our veterans 
and our POWs and MIAs. Joe has worked with my office from the very 
beginning on this effort.
  I also want to thank Gus Dante, also with Rolling Thunder National, 
who has worked steadfastly at Joe's side to see this through.
  Finally, I want to thank the members of Rolling Thunder Massachusetts 
Chapter 1 and all of the Rolling Thunder chapters around the Nation. 
Their efforts were integral to bringing us here today.
  After today, H.R. 1670 will move to the Senate for its consideration. 
I want to recognize and thank my Massachusetts colleague, Senator 
Elizabeth Warren, for introducing her Senate companion bill and for 
making this truly a bicameral effort.
  I look forward to continuing to work with her to get this past the 
finish line and have the National POW/MIA Remembrance Act signed into 
law.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may 
consume to the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Walker.)
  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, today I rise in support of H.R. 1670, the National POW/
MIA Remembrance Act of 2015, which would direct the Architect of the 
Capitol to place a commemorative chair paid for by private donations in 
the United States Capitol to honor American prisoners of war and those 
missing in action. This bill is a way to acknowledge and remember those 
who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
  One of the groups supporting this bill is the Rolling Thunder, as was 
just mentioned. The mission of the Rolling Thunder is to educate the 
public of the American prisoners of war who were left behind. I am 
happy to state that this bill is not a cost to the American taxpayers.
  In coordination with the Rolling Thunder, I have also introduced H. 
Res. 590, which calls for a selective committee on POW and MIA affairs.
  As a minister for nearly two decades, I can tell you that these 
situations are sometimes not always resolved, but the closure that it 
provides and benefits to the families is immeasurable.
  I am proud to once again stand with my colleagues today in honoring 
our brave men and women.
  Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may 
consume to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Rodney Davis).
  Mr. RODNEY DAVIS of Illinois. I thank the chairwoman for her 
willingness to put such a wonderful piece of legislation forward, 
something that truly should be unanimous in its bipartisan support.
  Mr. Speaker, I also rise in strong support of H.R. 1670, the National 
POW/MIA Remembrance Act. This bipartisan bill, as many of those who 
have spoken before me have said, authorizes the placement of a 
commemorative chair on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol that is going to 
be a reminder to all of us of the great sacrifice that our brave men 
and women in uniform have made to keep our country safe and promote our 
values around the globe.
  These commemorative chairs, which carry the POW/MIA insignia and are 
purchased with privately raised funds, remain perpetually unoccupied as 
a solemn reminder of the 91,000 brave servicemembers still waiting to 
be brought home.
  Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honor for me to be able to serve with 
some in this institution who were POWs and made it home. They need to 
be commended for their service, like Congressman Sam Johnson from 
Texas, who spent way too many months--48, I believe, to be exact--as a 
guest at the Hanoi Hilton.
  He was able to make it home. But so many more--so many more--families 
experience tragic losses because they never know what happened to their 
family members.
  Mr. Speaker, ensuring that our veterans are properly cared for is one 
of my top priorities as a Member of this great institution.
  And while the Veterans Administration continues to require 
significant reforms, having a commemorative chair in the Capitol will 
remind all Members--all Members--of this great institution of the 
commitments we have made to those who have fought so hard and ensure 
that we hold the VA accountable for their actions, too.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1670 so that 
families of POW/MIA servicemembers know also that the United States 
will never forget the sacrifices their loved ones who served this 
country with such valor and honor made.
  Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, let me just say, in support of H.R. 1670, I do want to 
share in the acknowledgment of Sam Johnson's service and sacrifice on 
behalf of this country.
  In fairness, I have to say that, when we went to the Hanoi Hilton, 
they did have a reconstructed version of what Senator John McCain went 
through in Hanoi. It is a sanitized version of what he suffered there, 
but I also want to recognize his service. He is truly an American hero 
as well.
  I thank my Republican colleagues on the other side of the aisle for 
their support. I am glad we can work on this together. I think we owe 
it to all our MIA and POWs and their families to get this done.
  I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1670.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, as I conclude, I just want to reiterate again that these 
brave men and women who served as POWs or those missing in action are 
our Nation's patriots and heroes, and they certainly do deserve to be 
honored. I am just proud to be a part of this effort to install this 
fitting memorial recognizing those who sacrificed so that we could all 
be free.
  I certainly want to thank our colleague from Massachusetts, Stephen 
Lynch, who introduced this bill. He came to me and asked that we would 
work together on this.
  I am delighted to do so because there is absolutely nothing more 
bipartisan and important, I think, than how we remember our veterans 
and those who are currently serving as well. This is a very, very 
important piece of legislation.

                              {time}  1615

  Mr. Speaker, I encourage all of my colleagues to join us in passing 
this measure today.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1670, 
``National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015'' which directs the 
Architect of the Capitol to place in the United States Capitol a chair 
honoring American Prisoners of War/Missing in Action.
  I support this legislation sponsored by Congressman Stephen Lynch of 
Massachusetts, because all soldiers should be commemorated for their 
heroic efforts.
  This important bill directs the Architect of the Capitol to enter 
into an agreement to obtain a chair featuring the logo of the National 
League of POW/MIA Families, and place it in the U.S. Capitol in a 
suitable permanent location within two years after enactment of this 
Act.
  The Architect of the Capitol may enter into an agreement with any 
tax-exempt, charitable organization to solicit private donations to 
carry out this Act; and accept resulting donations of funds, property, 
and services.
  An astonishing 83,000 American service personnel are still missing in 
action--from previous wars--and 142,233 Americans have been Prisoners 
of War (POW).
  Thankfully, revolutionary new communications, information management 
and surveillance technologies, the total dominance of the air 
dimension, better training, and the nature of the adversary and 
geography has halted the increase of POWs and soldiers missing in 
action.
  It is our duty as Americans to remember those who have bravely fought 
for our beloved country.
  Having this chair at our Nation's capital will serve as a continuous 
reminder that our freedom was fought for.

[[Page H1472]]

  This bipartisan bill stands as a testament that our soldiers should 
be honored for their efforts in protecting our freedom and rights as 
Americans.
  Our nation has a proud legacy of appreciation and commitment to the 
men and women who have worn the uniform in defense of this country but 
for those who never reunite with their families it is our duty as 
citizens to keep their memory alive.
  I urge all Members to join me in voting to pass H.R. 1670.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. Miller) that the House suspend the 
rules and pass the bill, H.R. 1670.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________