Congressman: I’ll oust Houston VA cemetery director

Monday, July 25, 2011

Congressman John Culberson says he’ll work to force the dismissal of the embattled director of the Houston National Cemetery, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Arleen Ocasio is under fire for allegedly attempting to censor religious speech at the cemetery.

In late May, the Liberty Institute sued the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Ocasio, claiming that they attempted to censor Pastor Scott Rainey’s invocation at a Memorial Day ceremony sponsored by a private group at the Houston cemetery. For more on the controversy, see Charles Haynes’ recent commentary.

The Chronicle reported that Culberson, R-Houston, who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee panel that oversees the cemetery’s financing, said “he would use the pending $78 billion military construction appropriations legislation to eliminate Ocasio’s salary starting Oct 1.”

The newspaper reported that Culberson said “he secretly attended a burial service July 8 at the 419-acre cemetery, where he heard members of a voluntary honor guard from Veterans of Foreign Wars District 4 and National Memorial Ladies describe alleged interference by cemetery officials in Christian recitations that included references to ‘God.’”

The five-term congressman said: “I’m working aggressively behind the scenes to make sure that the person in charge of the cemetery is fired because she has been deliberately and repeatedly preventing families from having the VFW recitation said over their grave.”

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