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Desert Storm/Desert Shield memorial bill readied for Senate vote

On Memorial Day, we can report that a monument to honor those who served in the First Gulf War advanced one more step toward reality. The National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial Act (S. 995) was officially reported out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last week. It was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar for a possible vote when the Senate returns from the Memorial Day recess. No vote has yet been scheduled, however.

The report became available online on the congressional website on Sunday, May 25. The committee passed the bill last Nov. 21 but didn't file the report, needed for Senate to vote, until last week. A similar measure was placed on the House Union Calendar on May 6 but the House hasn't voted on it yet either.

The bill would authorize the National Desert Storm Memorial Association to construct a memorial on unspecified federal land in the District of Columbia to honor members of the military who participated in Operation Desert Storm or Operation Desert Shield. No federal funds could be used for construction. Any leftover funds the association raises would go to the Department of the Interior to care for the monument. The House bill contains a slightly different clause regarding use of leftover funds.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the legislation, if enacted, would not significantly affect federal revenues or spending. The memorial would have to comply with the Commemorative Works Act, so at least 10 percent of the estimated construction cost would have to go into a fund for the National Park Foundation for upkeep of the structure and environs.

The National Park Service endorsed the bill but asked that it be amended to clarify what to do with leftover money should authorization expire and not enough money is raised.

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