Stolen Valor redux passes U.S. House

WASHINGTON – Legislation first championed six years ago by then-Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, has passed a hurdle with its passage in the U.S. House on Thursday night.

With bipartisan support, the House voted 410-3 on a new version of the Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime to profit from false claims of receiving military medals. Violators would be subject to up to a year of imprisonment or a fine.

While not a controversial vote today, the original Stolen Valor Act of 2006 was brought to the U.S. Supreme Court and struck down in June. The court ruled that while the false claims were despicable, imprisonment violated free speech.

Nevada Republican Joe Heck, who sponsored the bill, applauded the more stringent guidelines that narrowed the reason for imprisonment, including intent of financial gain.

Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said, “The intent of the original legislation, I agreed with, and I agreed with this bill as well. ... No one should be using the highest declaration we can give our men and women in the armed services for financial gain, is the way this bill is lined out.”

The act now will move to the Senate, where there is a similar bill co-sponsored by Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, who co-sponsored Salazar’s version while serving in the House in 2006.

But unlike Stolen Valor, the Senate bill is split along party lines, with Republicans introducing a bill in October 2011.

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