House set to consider legislation honoring federal workers

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House lawmakers returned to Washington on Wednesday ready to take up a bill honoring the service of federal civilian employees.

The legislation (H.R. 2061), introduced in June by Reps. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., and Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., would authorize heads of executive agencies to provide American flags for the funerals of civilian workers killed in the line of duty. Employees killed as the result of a terrorist attack, work-related accident or illness, natural disaster or criminal attack experienced while on duty, either at home or abroad, would be eligible for the honor.

The House had planned to consider the bill late Wednesday but put off the vote because Hanna's trip back to Washington was delayed. It is unclear when the vote will take place.

"Every year federal civilian employees are killed at home and abroad doing their duty for our nation," Hanna said in a statement introducing the bill. "The American flag embodies the values of our nation that these individuals worked to uphold. This legislation would provide a modest, but significant, benefit in honor of these dedicated individuals who sacrificed on our behalf."

Office of Personnel Management data show that nearly 3,000 civilian federal employees have died in the line of duty since 1992.

In a Sept. 2 letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., 15 government observers and leaders of federal employee groups expressed support for the legislation.

"Just as do members of the Armed Forces, members of the federal civilian workforce often risk their lives in order to carry out official duties and are critical to executing agencies' foreign and domestic missions," the letter stated. "This act would ensure that future employees who are killed while performing official duties are recognized for their valor and dedication to their agency, and, most importantly, to the people of the United States."

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