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House passes bill requiring Army to account for all graves at Arlington Cemetery

By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 16, 2010; 4:27 PM

The U.S. House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a bill requiring the secretary of the Army to provide Congress with an accounting of all 320,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery.

The bill, which comes on the heels of a growing scandal at the nation's most hallowed military burial ground, would also require a review of the contracts issued to digitize the cemetery's paper records and a study to determine whether authority over the cemetery should be transferred to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The legislation was previously approved by the Senate.

In June, an Army inspector general's report found more than 200 unmarked or mislabeled graves in three of the cemetery's 70 sections. It also found that at least four burial urns had been dug up and dumped in a dirt pile. Since then, the cemetery has discovered more problems, including eight sets of cremated remains that were dumped in a single gravesite.

The bill "will provide the congressional oversight we need to ensure we fix any errors as quickly as possible," said Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo), who sponsored the Senate bill.

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