House approves bill giving flags to families of deceased federal employees

Civilian Service Recognition Act to honor public servants killed in the line of duty passes unanimously.

The House on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that allows the U.S. government to present an American flag to the next-of-kin of civilian federal employees killed while performing official duties.

The Civilian Service Recognition Act was first introduced in June by Reps. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., and Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., and subsequently amended to distinguish civilian employees from members of the military killed in the line of duty.

"Ours is a grateful nation, one that values the sacrifices made in honor of this country," Hanna said on the House floor. "A life can never be repaid, but it can be honored." Hanna also stated that the Congressional Budget Office reported the bill would have "no significant impact on the federal budget."

Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., clarified that the bill would apply to civilian federal workers killed in instances of a criminal act, terrorism, a natural disaster or any other cause as determined by the president. She stated that the gesture was "a modest but significant show of gratitude."

According to the Office of Personnel Management, nearly 3,000 federal employees have been killed in the line of duty since 1992.

Following the vote, the National Treasury Employees Union praised lawmakers for doing more to acknowledge devoted public servants.

"The honor of a flag presentation represents recognition of the dedication of the individual to the service of our nation," NTEU President Colleen Kelley said in a statement. "It is both a meaningful and appropriate step to recognize those federal employees who have lost their lives simply because they were doing the job this country had asked of them."