US 'Will Not be Cutting Funding' to Stars and Stripes

US 'Will Not be Cutting Funding' to Stars and Stripes”

In a previously unpublicized memo cited by USA TODAY on Friday, the Pentagon delivered an order to shutter the newspaper and cease publication after September 30. But while Congress wrestles over a 2021 budget, the Defense Department has stepped in and ordered Stars and Stripes to shutter.

Earlier this week, more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper urging him to reconsider closing the newspaper, which provides print and online news to US troops around the world. "In fact, the House Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which passed the House of Representatives on July 31, 2020, included additional funding for the publication, and both house of Congress have resolutions supporting the mission of the Stars and Stripes".

The tweet from Trump comes as The Atlantic reports that the president denigrated fallen service members as "suckers" and "losers".

Trump, who has boasted about his record of helping United States veterans, has strongly denied the report.

This is despite congressional efforts to continue funding the century-old publication.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in a separate letter to Esper in late August, also voiced opposition to the move, calling Stripes "a valued "hometown newspaper" for the members of the Armed Forces, their families, and civilian employees across the globe".

The publication states that "on any given day, readers and visitors number about 1.0 million".

The Tuesday letter was signed by 15 senators - 11 Democrats and four Republicans.

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Capitol Hill staffers said Friday that the Pentagon had not yet responded to either letter.

The Stars and Stripes newspaper has long supported the troops.

The Senate has not yet finalized a defense funding bill. They wrote there remained "a real possibility" Congress would continue to fund Stars and Stripes in 2021. But if Trump now wants that money for the newspaper, the Pentagon would likely go along.

"I've been saying that Secretary Esper should rescind the shutdown order and commit to funding Stars and Stripes, so I'm glad to see the president making that commitment first", Gates said.

Founded by Union soldiers in 1861, Stars and Stripes has launched the careers of journalists such as Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Bill Mauldin, whose drawings of GI grunts "Willie and Joe" were a staple on the homefront and overseas during World War II.

Though Stars and Stripes retains its editorial independence and is congressionally mandated to be governed by First Amendment principles, it is part of the Pentagon's Defense Media Activity.

But a memo signed by U.S. Army Col. Paul Haverstick said the newspaper would be shut down by September 30, the last day of the government's 2020 fiscal year.

Trump, who has touted his record helping USA veterans, has strongly denied the report. "I'm glad to have the president's commitment that it won't happen".

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