As he continues his efforts to protect the integrity of valorous military awards, Congressman Joe Heck (NV-03) today applauded the House Committee on the Judiciary's passage of H.R. 258, the Stolen Valor Act of 2013. Rep. Heck's bill, which has 103 bipartisan co-sponsors, makes it a crime to knowingly benefit from lying about receiving certain valorous military medals and awards. The Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to move the bill to the floor for consideration before the whole House of Representatives. The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 (H.R. 258) is identical to legislation previously introduced by Rep. Heck that passed the House of Representatives in 2012 with an overwhelming bipartisan vote. Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced companion legislation, S. 210, in the Senate which has 19 bipartisan co-sponsors.
"With today's strong bipartisan vote we are one step closer to the finish line in our efforts to protect the integrity of our nation's highest military awards," Rep. Heck said. "The awards this bill protects were earned for doing extraordinary things under extraordinary circumstances in defense of our country and I am pleased the Judiciary Committee has recognized the importance of this issue. I thank Chairman Goodlatte for his leadership in bringing the bill before the committee and look forward to working with him to see this bill through to passage in the House."
"Our nation's highest military honors are awarded to those who have risked their lives for their country and comrades above and beyond the call of duty," said House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). "The Stolen Valor Act honors both our brave service members and the integrity of military awards by prohibiting people from falsely claiming to be a recipient of a military decoration in order to carry out a fraud. I applaud my colleague, Congressman Heck, for his work on this important issue and am pleased the Committee has reported out the bill favorably today."
In June of 2012, the Supreme Court overturned a previous stolen valor law on the grounds that it infringed on constitutionally-protected free speech, prompting Rep. Heck's bill to be improved and narrowed. Rep. Heck's bill makes a key change to the previous language that should now withstand constitutional scrutiny because the legislation narrowly focuses on those who seek to benefit from their misrepresentations of the receipt of military awards - not the lie itself.
Rep. Heck's more narrowly-focused bill states, "whoever, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds oneself out to be a recipient of a decoration or medal shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than one year, or both." The bill covers issues ranging from lying to receive veteran or health care benefits to obtaining a government contract or getting a job reserved for a veteran.
The issue of re-working the 2006 version of the Stolen Valor Act with a narrower, constitutionally-sound bill was first brought to Rep. Heck's attention during a meeting of his Veterans Advisory Panel. The panel is a group of local veterans that keep Rep. Heck informed on issues affecting local veterans in southern Nevada.