09/22/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/22/2020 18:45
WASHINGTON-The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Dan Crenshaw, R-Tex., and Michael Waltz, R-Fla., to authorize the President of the United States to posthumously award the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe for actions he took in Iraq on October 17, 2005, and for which he earned the Silver Star. The bill, H.R. 8276, would waive a federal law that generally requires a Medal of Honor to be awarded within five years of the actions that gave rise to the award, a requirement that Congress regularly waives. The House approved the bill by unanimous consent, a procedure used only when a bill enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support.
Having cleared the U.S. House, H.R. 8276 will now be transmitted to the U.S. Senate. Reps. Murphy, Crenshaw, and Waltz have already begun outreach efforts to senators of both parties in an effort to facilitate passage of the bill in that chamber. In addition to SFC Cashe's family, friends, and former comrades-in-arms, who have been advocating for SFC Cashe's Silver Star to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor for well over a decade, military veterans around the country recently began a grassroots movement in support of this cause.
Reps. Murphy, Crenshaw, and Waltz filed their bill in the wake of an August 24, 2020 letter that U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper sent to them, responding to an October 2019 letter he received from the three Members of Congress. The Members had asked the Secretary to carefully review SFC Cashe's case and expressed their personal view that SFC Cashe's actions warranted an upgrade to the Medal of Honor.
In his response letter, Secretary Esper stated: 'After giving the nomination careful consideration, I agree that SFC Cashe's actions merit award of the Medal of Honor.' The Secretary added: 'Before we can take further action with this nomination, Congress must waive this [five-year] time limit. Once legislation is enacted authorizing the President of the United States to award, if he so chooses, the Medal of Honor to SFC Cashe, I will provide my endorsement to the President.'
'With unanimous passage of our bill by the House today, we are one step closer to ensuring that Alwyn Cashe receives the Medal of Honor he earned,' said Murphy. 'I am grateful that so many Americans are learning of and being inspired by SFC Cashe's heroic actions, which are so extraordinary they nearly defy description. Now our fight to properly honor this soldier turns to the United States Senate, where I know we will have many allies. We will not stop working until we get this across the finish line.'
'We are one step closer to properly recognizing Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe for his bravery in risking his own life to save his fellow soldiers,' said Crenshaw. 'He is deserving of the Medal of Honor, our nation's highest military award for bravery on the battlefield, and we urge that the Senate quickly follow suit and pass our bill to make sure that happens.'
'It's not every day you read an extraordinary story like Alwyn Cashe's,' Waltz said. 'His bravery in the face of danger has inspired so many already - and this is a significant step forward to properly recognize him for his heroism. I'm incredibly proud to see the House of Representatives come together in favor of this legislation to award him the Medal of Honor. Now we need our colleagues in the Senate to pass our bill.'
In addition to introducing the standalone bill that the House approved today, Reps. Murphy, Crenshaw, and Waltz are working closely with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to include a waiver for SFC Cashe within the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which is currently pending in Congress. The three Members of Congress are pursuing two simultaneous lines of effort in order to maximize the chance of successfully enacting a waiver that would enable the President to award SFC Cashe the Medal of Honor as swiftly as possible.
In 2005, while deployed to Iraq, SFC Cashe saved the lives of multiple soldiers after their fighting vehicle hit an improvised explosive device and caught fire. SFC Cashe repeatedly returned to the burning vehicle to pull his soldiers out of the flames, all while he himself was on fire and exposed to enemy gunfire. He later passed away from his wounds. To see Rep. Murphy speak on the House floor about SFC Cashe, click here and here.
SFC Cashe was born in Sanford, Fla. and raised in Oviedo, Fla., both of which are located in Murphy's congressional district. He was laid to rest in Sanford, Fla.
Murphy, Crenshaw, and Waltz all have national security backgrounds. Murphy served as a national security specialist at the Department of Defense, Crenshaw served as an officer in the U.S. Navy SEALs, and Waltz served as an officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces.
The full text of H.R. 8276 can be found here.