U.S. Senate Adopts Craig's

April 21, 2005
Media contact: Jeff Schrade (202)224-9093

(Washington, DC) Those wounded in the service of their nation will benefit from new legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and adopted today by his colleagues.

The Craig amendment will provide between $25,000 and $100,000 to military personnel, depending on the severity of their injury, whether in combat or elsewhere.  Those in the service will pay $1 a month for the coverage as part of their Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance.

An additional amendment offered by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) will make Craig's measure retroactive to the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, which began in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.  Both the Craig and DeWine amendments were adopted by voice vote.

The money the senators approved is intended to offset the costs families incur when they have to leave jobs and homes to be with their loved ones while they are recuperating at military hospitals.

The new legislation is a part of an $81 billion emergency supplemental to fund on-going operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It must still be approved by the House of Representatives.

Craig, who serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said that it was the help of the Bush Administration and Ranking Member Daniel Akaka which helped put the measure over the top.

?Two days ago we held a press conference with both the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Under Secretary of Defense who expressed their solid support for this effort.  Their unwavering backing helped me quickly convince my colleagues that this is the right thing to do,? Craig said.  ?As an original cosponsor, Sen. Akaka was crucial in the passage of this legislation.?

It was just weeks ago that Craig met with three soldiers ? two of whom who had lost limbs and one who was blinded in Iraq ? about the need for the legislation. 

?It was their idea.  They came up with the original draft language which we incorporated into the final bill,? Craig said.  ?It's not often, in fact it's quite rare, for someone to approach a legislator with a legislative idea and then see it adopted by the U.S. Senate within two weeks.?

Ryan Kelly, from Prescott, Arizona, Jeremy W. Feldbusch from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and Heath Calhoun, from Clarksville, Tennessee, along with Jeremy Chwat, the Public Policy Director of the Wounded Warrior Project, made the original appeal to the senior senator from Idaho.

The amendment co-sponsors are: Senators Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Max Baucus (D-Montana), Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), Kit Bond (R-Missouri), Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), John Ensign (R-Nevada), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey), Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas), Barack Obama (D-Illinois), Ken Salazar (D-Colorado), Craig Thomas (R-Wyoming), and John Thune (R-South Dakota).