- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2016

Legislation to honor some unique members of the “greatest generation” appears to be stalled on Capitol Hill due to a regulatory hangup.

The heroic Office of Strategic Services, the World War II-era predecessor of both the CIA and U.S. special forces, had been nominated to receive the Congressional Gold Medal for their intrepid and productive clandestine activities. At its height, the force included 13,000 men and women from all branches of the military, and was known for its ingenuity.

The “OSS Congressional Gold Medal Act” has been passed by the Senate and the requisite number of cosponsors to be passed by the House. Now the legislation seems to be in limbo, even as the precious few living OSS members, all in their 90s, wonder if the recognition will come their way. The medal has been awarded to the group’s peers in past years, including Native American Code Talkers and the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.

“If the bill is not passed by the end of the 114th Congress, it will die and some of the greatest heroes of the ‘greatest generation’ will never be honored for their service, which would be a travesty,” said a source familiar with the situation.

Military historian Patrick O’Donnell verifies the OSS is the real deal.

“They changed the face of World War II. You’d be very hard pressed to find a smaller group of individuals who made such a profound difference in the history of modern American warfare,” Mr. O’Donnell told the Associated Press in an interview.

“The House Republican Conference enacted a rule that prevents awarding the Gold Medal to groups of people, unless House leadership grants a waiver. A spokeswoman for the House Republican Conference did not return a call and email seeking comment on the rule. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office also declined comment,” writes AP correspondent Matthew Barakat.

There’s bipartisan interest, however.

Rep. Robert Latta, the Ohio Republican who sponsored the legislation, is working on a rule change that could bring the bill before the House before it’s too late. Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who shepherded the OSS bill along in the Senate, told the AP: “It just shouldn’t be this hard.”

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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