Update: President Trump took to Twitter today to assure America’s longest running military publication would remain funded by the federal government.
“The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstipes magazine under my watch. It will contiune to be a great source of information to our Great Military!” he wrote on Twitter.
The Pentagon has ordered the long-running military newspaper Stars and Stripes to shut down, according to a memo published Friday.
USA Today reports the Pentagon delivered an order for the publication to present a plan that “dissolves the Stars and Stripes” by Sept. 15 including a “specific timeline for vacating government owned/leased space worldwide.” Memo author Col. Paul Haverstick Jr. said the newspaper’s final edition will be September 30, and the organization will dissolve entirely by January.
Stars and Stripes, first published by Union soldiers during the Civil War, has delivered U.S. military news to troops around the world for more than 150 years. The newspaper distributed 7 million copies of its U.S. weekly print edition in 2019, according to The Hill, as well as publishing news online.
Military.com reports a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday urging him to preserve the “historically significant publication,” which only requires “a tiny fraction” of the Defense Department’s annual budget.
“Stars and Stripes is an essential part of our nation’s freedom of the press that serves the very population charged with defending that freedom,” wrote 15 senators, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “Therefore, we respectfully request that you rescind your decision to discontinue support for Stars and Stripes and that you reinstate the funding necessary for it to continue operations.”
“We understand that DoD plans to cease publication of Stars and Stripes on September 30, 2020 and completely dissolve the organization by January 31, 2021 as a result of the proposed termination of funding in the fiscal year 2021 President’s budget,”
USA Today notes Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wrote a similar, separate letter to Esper: “As a veteran who has served overseas, I know the value Stars and Stripes brings to its readers.”
According to The Hill, Stars and Stripes’ funding is roughly $15.5 million annually, or 0.000022% of the Pentagon’s $705.4 billion fiscal 2021 budget released in February. Esper proposed cutting all of the newspaper’s funding at the time to invest “into higher-priority issues.”
Congress is urging the DoD not to shut down the publication before lawmakers can vote this fall on the spending in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. USA Today reports the House approved a version earlier this summer that overruled the Trump administration’s request and restored funding for the paper, but the Senate has not yet acted.
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