Pentagon rescinds order to shut down Stars and Stripes newspaper

Sept. 11 (UPI) — The Pentagon rescinded its order to close down the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, the publication announced.

The Defense Media Activity office also told Stars and Stripes ombudsman Ernie Gates that it will withdraw its request that Congress not fund Stars and Stripes in fiscal year 2021, the newspaper reported on Thursday.

The newspaper, funded by the Defense Department but independently edited, is supplied to U.S. service members across the world for news and information. It began publishing in the 1850s, and has been a military fixture since World War II.

The decision, several days ago, to defund the newspaper’s operations provoked an outcry from members of Congress, many of whom are veterans who valued the publication while in military service.

The announcement comes after President Donald Trump on Sept. 4 tweeted that the funding, amounting to about $15.5 million per year, would not be cut “under my watch.”

“It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!” Trump added.

Prior to Trump’s announcement, a bipartisan group of 15 senators asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper to maintain the newspaper. In August, Esper said the funding was better used for “higher-priority issues.”

The newspaper’s long-term status, though, remains in doubt. It is not included in the Senate’s version of the defense budget, although Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced their support for maintaining the publication.

“That’s a concrete act,” Gates said of Thursday’s order to rescind. “Next, it’s up to Congress to be sure there is money in the fiscal 2021 defense budget to keep it publishing.”

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