House Democrats who served in the armed forces harshly criticized the Trump administration’s decision to pull the plug on the Stars and Stripes news outlet, and vowed to fight to keep the military newspaper funded.
“I read it on active duty when I served in Guam, and it is something that is improving the quality of life for military families and military personnel, and I cannot understand why we would get rid of the Stars and Stripes,” Rep. Ted Lieu, California Democrat, told reporters on a press call Friday afternoon.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the $15.5 million typically set aside for the independent newspaper needed to be reallocated to more critical programs at the Pentagon.
The money was left out of the department’s annual budget request this year and officials on Capitol Hill said there was a request to cease publishing Stars and Stripes by September 30 and “completely dissolve” the paper by the end of January.
USA Today reported on Friday that the Pentagon circulated a memo saying the paper will implement a shutdown plan by September 15th.
The paper’s supporters on Capitol Hill pushed back earlier this week, sending a letter to Mr. Esper calling for him to restore its funding.
Mr. Lieu, who served in the United States Air Force and currently serves as a colonel in the reserves, and Rep. Jason Crow, Colorado Democrat, a former Army Ranger, said Friday they plan on keeping pressure on the administration— and hope to get some support from Republicans.
“If the president doesn’t care about the quality of life of our service members and our families, which is quite evident at this point, Congress does, and we’re going to make sure that that doesn’t happen,” Mr. Crow said.
Their comments about the military newspaper came as part of a larger critique from a handful of former service members now working in the House on the president’s performance as commander in chief.
In particular, they slammed the president in light of allegations he called fallen troops ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’ during a trip to France.
The Atlantic released a report late Thursday night citing four anonymous sources “with firsthand knowledge” that claimed the president canceled his visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in November 2018 by falsely blaming rain and a helicopter that couldn’t fly.
“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” the president allegedly told aides. The article also states that the president referred to the more than 1,800 Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood in World War I as “suckers” for getting killed.
Despite the story relying on unnamed sources, the Democratic lawmakers said it fit with a pattern of Mr. Trump disrespecting others who sacrificed like the late Sen. John McCain and the Gold Star Khan family, who lost their son in the line of duty.
— Mike Glenn contributed to this report.