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FORT WORTH, Texas _ Some members of Congress think it's time to cut off the cash to Army Maj. Nidal Hasan.
On the eve of opening statements in the court-martial of Hasan, the defendant in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage, lawmakers have proposed suspending military pay for service men and women charged with certain crimes.
They say they are frustrated that Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged with multiple counts of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder in one of the worst mass shootings on a military base, has received paychecks totaling nearly $300,000 while locked up.
"It is outrageous that taxpayers continue to pay an accused terrorist that killed more than a dozen people," said U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas. "Does anyone think this make sense? You are innocent until proven guilty in this country, but that doesn't mean you should be rewarded while awaiting trial."
The Stop Pay for Violent Offenders Act has been filed in the U.S. House _ to let the military suspend pay for those arrested and charged with rape, sexual assault or a capital offense _ by Reps. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., Tom Rooney, R-Fla., and Frank Wolf, R-Va.
"The fact that the sole suspect in this attack, Nidal Hasan, a major in the U.S. Army, has continued to draw his Army salary _ costing taxpayers more than $278,000 _ is outrageous," Griffin said.
Current law lets the military stop paying civilian employees, but officials say they can't stop paying military members on active service, such as Hasan, unless they are convicted.
"This bill would correct a huge oversight that has allowed military personnel charged with a serious crime to continue to receive their pay while awaiting trial," Wolf said. "Does anybody really think it's right that Nidal Hasan has collected more than $200,000 in taxpayer dollars since being charged in the Fort Hood shootings?"
The bill is drawing mixed reactions.
It would withhold military members' salaries during the court process, but anyone acquitted would receive full salary payment.
"Our bill is simple - if you're awaiting trial for a serious crime, you can't collect a salary from the American taxpayer," said Rooney, a former prosecutor at Fort Hood.
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