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Protecting Stars And Stripes Matters For American Troops

September 15, 2020

This month I opined that our military forces should not need to lose their newspaper.

The Pentagon has ordered the Stars and Stripes, a printed newspaper (and also in recent times an online source) to end all publishing. This newspaper has been a news and entertainment sources since the days of the Civil War. The shutdown is to occur by September 15th, with the last newspaper in all formats to be ended on the 30th of this month.

The reason I bring up the autocratic aspect in relation to Trump is that his administration is claiming the authority to close this newspaper under the president’s fiscal year 2021 defense department budget request. It simply removed all funds for the newspaper. The issue that showcases the authoritarian move is that Congress has the power to make such decisions concerning the use of taxpayers’ money, as the House approved funding for the paper.

After the national backlash Trump reversed course as he knew he was in over his head—and not even he wishes to see what happens when that thing on his head gets wet. But now as The New York Times points out in an editorial Congress needs to make sure this independent newspaper has proper funding. And since the budget process is once again–or is the more appropriate word still–in a dysfunctional state there must be an action by congress on behalf of the newspaper.

Democratic and Republican senators pushed back, and then President Trump — under assault over reports that he had disparaged fallen and wounded service members — declared in a tweet that funds to the paper would not be cut “under my watch” and that “It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!” Soon after, a Pentagon spokesman announced that the decision to close the paper had been reversed.

That should be the end of the matter. But a hybrid outfit like Stars and Stripes — a Department of Defense organization partly funded by the military and a newspaper authorized by Congress to be independent of the military command — does not qualify for continuous funding in a continuing resolution. Congress must do that.

It should not be this hard to do what is so obviously correct. We know that the Trump White House is a disaster, and that conservatives have never met a budget they did not want to undermine. But between Democrats and supporters of the military on the Republican side there has to be enough members of congress who can press this issue over the end zone.

Lets get it done!

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