2:41 PM EDT

Nick Joe Rahall, D-WV 3rd

Mr. RAHALL. Madam Speaker, in June, the American public learned that a major U.S. airline greeted a group of Army soldiers who were returning home from the front lines in Afghanistan with a bill for almost $3,000, or $200 apiece for each soldier to check four bags on a scheduled domestic flight. Americans were rightly outraged by the incident, which was explained in a YouTube video posted by one of our troops. In the video, one soldier notes that his fourth bag, for which he was charged $200,

contained an M-4 carbine rifle, a grenade launcher and a 9-millimeter pistol, ``the tools I used to protect myself and Afghan citizens while I was deployed.''

A spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars told the Associated Press the fees were ``the worst welcome home any soldier could receive. The shock of even being charged is enough to make most service men and women simply shake their heads and wonder who or what it is they are protecting.''

Members of the Armed Forces who are serving our country on the front lines should not endure personal financial hardship when they are traveling to or returning from war zones. Yet, the media's reporting of the incident last month showed that major U.S. carriers were applying the same or similar policies across the board. Airlines were charging soldiers to check four reasonably sized bags and were profiting at the expense of the brave men and women of the Armed Forces who were going to or coming

home from war.

This amendment, this motion to recommit, prohibits U.S. air carriers from charging soldiers for up to four bags of checked baggage. It applies to bags that weigh 80 pounds or less and is consistent with many airlines' published policies.

I urge my colleagues, in a bipartisan fashion, as they should, to support this amendment. If the amendment is adopted, it will not kill the bill. The House will vote on the bill immediately after this amendment is adopted.

This motion recognizes a tremendous debt of our gratitude owed by the United States to the men and women of our Armed Forces. Members of the Armed Forces who are going to the front lines or coming home from a war zone should not be given a bill with their boarding passes.

I urge my colleagues to join me in ensuring that our Nation's airlines treat our warriors with the respect they deserve for defending our country. This should be a bipartisan, overwhelming ``yes.''

And I close by saying, vote for our veterans.

I yield back the balance of my time.

2:44 PM EDT

Chip Cravaack, R-MN 8th

Mr. CRAVAACK. Madam Speaker, I think it is absolutely outrageous what happened to those soldiers. As a military officer for 24 years, and as an airline pilot for 17 years, I think it is absolutely heinous what happened to those soldiers. Quite frankly, it's outrageous. And I think we should ask Chairman Mica for open debate on this issue. It's something that definitely should be taken a look into.

As a matter of fact, I think it is so critical I will ask Chairman Mica to make sure that this never happens to another United States servicemember.

But, unfortunately, Madam Chairman, we're bringing this up on a motion to recommit. My question would be, why didn't we bring this up earlier, this act? We should be debating this when----

2:46 PM EDT

Nick Joe Rahall, D-WV 3rd

Mr. RAHALL. In response to the gentleman's question asked a few seconds ago, it was a closed rule. There was no way we could have brought this up in the amendment process. The gentleman's party controls the rules of this body and controls the legislative debate.

2:46 PM EDT

Chip Cravaack, R-MN 8th

Mr. CRAVAACK. We should not be opening this at this time on a motion to recommit. I will fully work with the other side in trying to make sure that this does not happen again to another soldier, and I look forward to that discussion, but having it right now is a little bit disingenuous on this FAA reauthorization.

I yield back the balance of my time.