Recent coverage around the OSS award has become widespread. The Washington Post repoted that the “Bill that would honor World War II’s secret commandos can’t seem to pass in Congress.” A great many are outraged, unsure, and making assumptions as to why. However, the reasons are more pragmatic and less vindictive. People aren’t entirely sure why there is such a negative reaction. But it’s justifiable as everyone would like to see this award make its way through Congress.
The award, like many other things, seems relatively simple from the outside. However, rules and procedural facts often limit the time and place of what would be mundane things in Congress. The system was designed to not act quickly all the time. Our legislative process isn’t meant to be changed quickly and, in turn, prove resistant to disruption. The problems with the OSS award is in the same vein. It’s a rule based limitation – not personality.
Here are the basics. First off, virtually everyone on the relevant committees are aware of the issue. A couple years ago, the House rules were changed so that Congressional Gold Medals can no longer be given to groups. There are ongoing talks and a greater discussion with the sponsor of the Bill’s office, as well as leadership, about a possible change of rules. That change would accommodate the Bill passing and the award going to the OSS. The plan would be to enact a rules change in the lame duck. It’s unknown what that would look like at this point in time. Before a rules change is brought to the floor, a conference would need to deliberate and agree. There’s no hold-up from the Financial Services Committee outside of the rules limiting the passage of the Bill.
Here are the basics:
– New rules restrict Congressional Gold Medal to go individuals not groups
– A waiver has been considered and it’s status is not officially known.
– OSS Gold Medal DOES violate the rules. It doesn’t seem likely that a waiver will suffice. There could be a number of technical reasons for this.
– Instead of a waiver, the rules are being considered for a change. Necessitiating a meeting of sorts that gains consensus. This is tentatively planned to happen in the lame duck. Taking this into consideration it’s unlikely it will be in an OMNIBUS at the end of the year.
Featured image courtesy of The OSS Society.