New Rules on Arlington Clear Panel

By Darlene Superville Associated Press Writer

Legislation to clarify who is entitled to burial at Arlington National Cemetery cleared a House committee Thursday.

The bill resulted from allegations last year that the Clinton administration approved burials for big campaign contributors who would not ordinarily qualify for the burial privilege.

The ensuing uproar led to the removal of the remains of Larry Lawrence, one-time U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, after it was learned that he falsified his military background.

A subsequent review by the General Accounting Office, the investigative branch of Congress, found no evidence of improper use of waivers, but said the process was unclear.

The House Veterans benefits subcommittee approved the bill by voice vote. Sponsored by Reps. Jack Quinn, R-N.Y., and Bob Filner, D-Calif, it advances to the full committee.

The bill would bar members of Congress, the vice president, Supreme Court justices, Cabinet secretaries and ranking diplomats from being buried at Arlington based on past military service.

Eligibility would continue for the president and former presidents, Armed Forces members who die on active duty and retired service personnel, including reservists.

Former service members decorated with such honors as the Purple Heart or Medal of Honor, former prisoners of war and members entitled to retirement pay at the time of their death also could be buried at the cemetery.

The bill also would allow certain close family members of eligible veterans to be buried in the same grave with loved ones without need for a waiver. It would allow the cremated remains of any honorably discharged veteran to be kept at the cemetery.

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