On Sunday, Leslie reported that the Pentagon has started to collect overpayments officials made to 10,000 National Guard soldiers in California to reenlist for war. Now House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has joined forces with California GOP members to ask the Pentagon to stop these collections:

“These brave Californians were willing to give everything to serve our country, and they earned every penny and benefit given to them,” Pelosi said Monday in a brief statement.

“The overpayment of enlistment signing bonuses by the Department of Defense should not be the responsibility of our service members or veterans to pay back, years after the fact,” she added. “Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell must join with Congressional Democrats and pass a legislative fix as soon as we gavel back into session.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that the California National Guard promised $15,000 in bonuses to soldiers to reenlist and go overseas:

Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse — after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade.

Investigations have determined that lack of oversight allowed for widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets.

But soldiers say the military is reneging on 10-year-old agreements and imposing severe financial hardship on veterans whose only mistake was to accept bonuses offered when the Pentagon needed to fill the ranks.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called the Pentagon’s mission “disgraceful” and demanded “the Department of Defense to waive the repayments soldiers would be forced to make if they inappropriately received re-enlistment bonuses for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” He continued:

“Our military heroes should not shoulder the burden of military recruiters’ faults from over a decade ago,” McCarthy said in a statement. “They should not owe for what was promised during a difficult time in our country.”

Politico reports that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has begun “legislation to address the situation,” calling it “unacceptable” and also asked the Pentagon to stop:

“These soldiers enlisted during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and frequently served overseas, and we owe them a debt that we can never repay, but we can start by ensuring they are not subject to tax liens or wage garnishments based on the errors of others,” Schiff said in statement, which accompanied a letter to the top state guard official.

Is it that simple? One person claimed it’s against the law:

“At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price,” Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard told the Times. “We’d be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law.”

Beevers did not expand on the law they would break or if they had the ability to work around it.

Leslie wrote that Bryan Strother, a sergeant first class from Oroville north of Sacramento, filed a class-action lawsuit in February on behalf of those soldiers. But in response, the lawyers for U.S. Attorney Philip A. Talbert in Sacramento petitioned a judge to dismiss the lawsuit since the government waived Strother’s debt.

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