Congressman Jim Saxton (NJ-3rd) cast his final votes today in a storied 24-year career in the House of Representatives as the House passed the "National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Act of 2008." Saxton then took a flight to West Point, where he was accorded an honorary cadet review by the Secretary of the Army, and addressed cadets.
"This is a memorable day for me among my 24 years in Congress," said Saxton, who has served New Jersey's Third Congressional District since 1984 after a special election to fill the seat of Rep. Edwin Forsythe, who died in office. "It is ironic that my last vote is coincidentally for improving the lives of men and women who serve in the armed forces, who guard our freedom. I have spent much of my time in Washington on National Guard, Reserve and active duty issues. They serve us, and I have felt a strong obligation to serve them."
The bill amends federal bankruptcy law to prohibit bankruptcy courts from dismissing or converting a case based on means testing while the debtor is either on active duty in the military service of the United States, or performing a homeland defense activity for at least 90 days. The bill also extends protection during the 540 days following the end of such a period. It also covers those called to such active duty or performed such homeland defense activity after September 11, 2001, as a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces or the National Guard.
Also by coincidence, when Saxton cast his hallmark 10,000th vote in 2004, it was for another Guard and Reserve bill called the "Guardsmen and Reservists Financial Relief Act of 2003."
Saxton joined Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, a former member of the House Armed Service Committee with whom Saxton served, and the Dean of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan, on the plains of West Point for its high tradition of a sunset review.
"It is likely that each of you, upon graduation, will serve in Iraq or Afghanistan," said Saxton in his address to the cadets. "The fact that each of you was aware of the possibility of going to war, yet still raised their right hand, is a testament to your character and patriotism."
Earlier in the day, Saxton also voted for the much publicized House-Senate compromise on "The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008," which passed 263-171.
Republican Minority Leader John Boehner hailed Saxton's service to the nation, singling out his area of work on House committees on terrorism, armed services and the economy.
"Congressman Jim Saxton has fought hard in Washington for our national security, working to implement policies to keep us safe and to help our intelligence communities track down and apprehend terrorists. As both Chairman and then the top Republican on the House Joint Economic Committee, he has worked hard to protect taxpayers' dollars through sensible tax and economic policies. And as a senior lawmaker on the House Armed Services Committee, Jim has been a stalwart voice for our troops and their families as he undertook the critically important task of helping modernize our military. Jim Saxton has been a true friend of mine for many years, and I wish him the best of luck in his retirement. He has served his constituents well, and he has been a powerful voice for our military."