With northwest Illinois’ congresswoman playing a key role, Congress gift-wrapped a special present to help special Americans. Let’s hope that President Donald Trump delivers it. Then let’s hope that it never again needs to be opened.
The gift is the Gold Star Spouses Leasing Relief Act, federal legislation to support widows and widowers of U.S. military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat who represents our corner of Illinois, and Rep. Brad Wenstrup, an Ohio Republican, made the legislation a bipartisan effort. It allows spouses of service members killed in the line of duty to terminate residential leases without financial penalty.
Bustos became aware of the issue after the widow of Sgt. Douglas Riney, who died in Afghanistan in October 2016, wished to quickly move back to her home state of Illinois. The Rineys were living in Texas; Douglas, of Fairview, Ill., was stationed at Fort Hood before deployment. However, the plans by Kylie Riney, of Farmington, to return to Illinois, where she and her children could grieve close to family, was complicated when her landlord sought to impose hefty lease-cancellations penalties.
This legislation fills a gap — Gold Star spouses were not covered — in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. It passed with flying colors in both chambers of Congress, and the president’s signature is expected.
Then, once this legislation Bustos championed becomes law, it would be wonderful if its protections never need to be invoked. That would be a fine Christmas gift indeed.
While Bustos is celebrating her legislative victory, on the heels of a successful re-election campaign, another congressional representative from the tri-state area is not having nearly as positive a December.
U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, a Dubuque Republican, lost his re-election bid in November. In December, he has been fulfilling his duties, casting votes in the House, while preparing to close up shop in Washington and his district offices.
Blum last week received a dubious parting gift. It came in the form of the report by the Office of Congressional Ethics. The nonpartisan and independent board concluded it has “substantial reason to believe” that Blum violated multiple ethics rules in connection with one of his businesses, Tin Moon Corp., a 2016 startup.
While the board called for further investigation and kicked its report up to the House Committee on Ethics, the matter is likely to fade away in light of Blum’s upcoming exit from Congress.
We won’t review here the entire Tin Moon saga as it involves Blum, but we will note that the Office of Congressional Ethics uncovered examples of shady conduct in the name of Tin Moon. While Blum might well have been out of the loop on some or all of that, the actions by his associates, working with or for him, reflects poorly on him. The company you keep and all that.
Blum can rightly point to positive achievements during his four years in Congress. It’s unfortunate that his legacy will be tarnished by Tin Moon.
If you are receiving senior citizen discounts at the checkout counter, you probably remember a historic event of 50 years ago today.
It was Christmas Eve 1968, and U.S. astronauts were
orbiting the moon. (The first manned landing and moon walk would take place the following July.)
The year 1968 was one of the most unusual and unsettling times in U.S. history. There was Vietnam — the war itself and the protests. Assassinations — Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. Rallies and riots in American cities over the war and civil-rights issues. A divisive presidential election decided by a close margin.
Events of 1968 weighed heavily on Americans. They needed a break.
They got one, of sorts, in an unusual way, when the Apollo 8 astronauts — Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders — transmitted to the rest of the world a live video of Earth and took turns reading Bible passages about the first Christmas.
For those fortunate enough to see it then, when space travel was still novel, the scene was soothing and surreal. Never before had so many people simultaneously heard humans’ voices.
A half-century later, the year 2018 hasn’t been America’s best. Perhaps finding time to watch that 1968 video — find it at https://go.nasa.gov/2hSSY0V — will bring us comfort and put what seem like major issues into perspective this Christmas.
Editorials reflect a consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board.
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Region: Galena,City: Dubuque, IA,Opinion
December 24, 2018 at 03:57AM