Politics

US Senate approves bill letting National Guard soldiers keep bonuses

National Guardsmen stand in formation along the U.S.-Mexico border in California in this August 18, 2010 file photo. Nearly 10,000 state guardsmen were told by the Pentagon earlier this year they would need to return their reenlistment bonuses because they were paid without proper authorization, but a bill passed by the U.S. Senate Thursday would let many of them keep the money.
National Guardsmen stand in formation along the U.S.-Mexico border in California in this August 18, 2010 file photo. Nearly 10,000 state guardsmen were told by the Pentagon earlier this year they would need to return their reenlistment bonuses because they were paid without proper authorization, but a bill passed by the U.S. Senate Thursday would let many of them keep the money.
Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Thousands of California National Guard soldiers will get to keep their bonuses, thanks to a bill signed in the U.S. Senate Thursday.

Nearly 10,000 state guardsmen were told by the Pentagon earlier this year they would need to return their reenlistment bonuses because they were paid without proper authorization. Many of those bonuses were worth tens of thousands of dollars.

The debt forgiveness won't apply to soldiers who "knew or should have known" the bonuses were improper, but it's up to the Pentagon to figure out which bonuses.

Congressman Adam Schiff asked the Pentagon to put its efforts on hold about three months ago. He told KPCC they've made great strides since then but will need to make sure the provision lasts through the new White House administration.

"We stand ready to come back early next year to do even more. So I know there's a lot of concern out there that there's still exposure, but we intend to hold the Pentagon's feet to the fire," Schiff said.

The bill now heads to President Obama's desk.