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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans’ Affairs and Related Agencies – convened the subcommittee’s first hearing of the 115th Congress yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery. Witnesses included Arlington National Cemetery Superintendent Ms. Katharine Kelley and Army National Military Cemeteries Executive Director Ms. Karen Durham-Aguilera. 

Click here to listen to an audio recording of the hearing. Click here to read Chairman Moran’s opening statement.

Stars and Stripes: Army: Arlington National Cemetery is at a 'critical point' for space

“I know there are issues: land issues, budget issues, space issues to work through,” said Moran, chairman of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee. “I welcome the great responsibility of helping preserve and protect Arlington, and ensuring – for as long as possible – this ground is open and active for the burial and inurnment of those who have served us all.”

Arlington leaders indicated the cemetery would need large injections of funding in the future to expand its space and maintain its current footprint. The continuing resolution that funds Arlington, as well as most other federal agencies and programs, expires April 28, and lawmakers are racing to piece together spending bills and avoid a government shutdown. 

Moran said Wednesday that he was hopeful Congress would “be able to avoid a continuing resolution and get out of the business of simply flat-lining and failing to prioritize appropriations requests.”

Independent Journal Review: Arlington Cemetery Is Running Out of Space. Two Senators from Opposite Parties Are Trying to Fix That

With the cemetery conducting nearly 30 burials a day, space is at a premium. In its current state, the cemetery won't be able to conduct first internments by 2041, explained Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries.

“The Army recognizes that the nation is at a critical point in the cemetery’s history,” Durham-Aguilera said. “Current projections show Arlington National Cemetery will reach maximum capacity in the early 2040s. This means that a veteran from the 1991 Gulf War who lives to his or her normal life expectancy will not have the choice to be interred at Arlington.”

While the two senators present on Wednesday may come from opposing political parties — and vastly different states — it was clear from their statements that they both intend to do everything in their power to do right by America's fallen.

“This is a place for families and friends, for mourning and grieving, and remembrance. It is sacred space,” explained Sen. Moran.