A bill to authorize the presentation of flags to the survivors of federal employees killed in the line of duty passed the House on Wednesday and now moves to the Senate.
The Civilian Service Recognition Act passed on a 425-0 vote with the support of organizations representing federal employees and the American Legion, which initially objected to the measure as a move to equate civilian service with military service.
The bill was amended in recent weeks to clarify that there would be no military-style funeral honors, merely the presentation of a flag to the next of kin or other designee, following the line-of-duty death of a federal employee due to a criminal act, natural disaster, terrorism or other extraordinary event. Supporters say that nearly 3,000 federal workers have been killed in the line of duty since 1992, including in terrorist acts.
“This is a modest, but significant benefit to honor federal civilian employees who work within our country and in countless overseas posts,” sponsor Rep. Richard L. Hanna (R-N.Y.) said in a statement. “Ours is a grateful nation, one that values the sacrifices made in honor of this country. A life can never be repaid, but it can be honored.”
“Passing this bipartisan bill will allow that sacrifice to be honored through the presentation of an American flag,” co-sponsor Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (D-N.Y.) said in the statement. “It is a fitting tribute, which demonstrates our nation’s gratitude for those who paid the ultimate price in service to country.”