Congress

Congress used to have a moment of silence for fallen troops. Will GOP bring it back?

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. looks at pictures of the soldiers killed this century based in Camp Lejeune along a hallway leading to his office on Capitol Hill, on Oct. 25, 2017, in Washington.
Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. looks at pictures of the soldiers killed this century based in Camp Lejeune along a hallway leading to his office on Capitol Hill, on Oct. 25, 2017, in Washington. AP

More than 16 years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, U.S. troops are fighting terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and an expanding list of locales across the Middle East and North Africa.

Rep. Walter Jones thinks the U.S. House of Representatives should acknowledge those killed and wounded in Afghanistan with a monthly moment of silence on the floor. Jones, a Republican whose eastern North Carolina district includes Camp Lejeune, introduced a resolution in early December to require the House to observe a moment of silence on the first legislative day of each month.

“We need to remember our men and women in uniform that have died and been wounded and their families,” said the 74-year-old Jones, who was first elected in 1994. “We need to start that.”

Since 2001, nearly 7,000 American military members have been killed and more than 57,800 wounded in the region, according to the Department of Defense.

Jones voted for the Iraq war in 2002, but has publicly acknowledged his regret at the vote. He has called for the U.S. to end the war in Afghanistan and chastised President Donald Trump for sending more troops after campaigning against staying there.

Jones signs condolence letters to the families of fallen soldiers as “penance” for his Iraq war vote.

The House held the monthly observance from 2008 to 2010, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. Those years were the deadliest of the conflict in Iraq. Jones was poised to introduce a resolution at that time when Pelosi headed him off.

“She sent a staff (member) to me, ‘You tell Congressman Jones he doesn’t need to do it because I’m going to do it.’” Jones said.

The practice ended in 2010. Republicans took control of the House in 2010. Jones said he also sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan about re-starting the tradition.

Jones’ bill, which has three co-sponsors, calls for the speaker of the House to preside over the moment of silence. The bill has been sent to the rules committee.

“America’s military members are fighting and dying for this country, and we must show our gratitude,” Jones said.

Brian Murphy: 202-383-6089, @MurphinDC

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