WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's joint hearing titled “Arlington National Cemetery – Preserving the Promise.” For testimony and to watch the hearing click here.
"I want to welcome everyone to this morning's Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing. The purpose of today's hearing is to receive testimony from stakeholders and Department officials on the future of Arlington National Cemetery. This iconic resting place for generations of brave men and women who have served their country is truly a national treasure. During its 153 year history, more than 400,000 people have been interred or inurned at the cemetery. Unfortunately, the cemetery is rapidly running out of space. If nothing is done, in a matter of 23 short years, the cemetery will be closed to new burials.
In response to a congressional mandate, last year the Secretary of Army provided a report on Arlington National Cemetery's capacity. The report makes clear that action is required if we hope to preserve Arlington as an active cemetery.
I look forward to hearing from our two panels about their recommendations on how best to preserve Arlington National Cemetery. For our first panel, comprised of military and veteran service organizations, I look forward to hearing the views of the veterans and active service members who will be directly impacted by any decisions regarding changes to eligibility criteria. I also look forward to hearing your members' ideas on how best to preserve Arlington National Cemetery as an active cemetery well into the future. For our second panel, consisting of the leadership of Arlington National Cemetery, I look forward to hearing what steps have been taken to exhaustively research the capacity issue and what options are available to maximize both eligibility and the life of the cemetery."