H.R. 833, a bill introduced in the House that would prohibit the Department of Defense from rating the new Distinguished Warfare Medal as equal to, or higher than, the Purple Heart, had more than 40 co-sponsors as of March 7, according to the Library of Congress’ bill-tracking website. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a former marine, introduced the bill on Feb. 26, along with Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), an Army veteran, and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), a Navy Reservist. “Combat valor awards have a deep and significant meaning to those who serve in America’s military,” said Hunter in a release that same day. He said while there’s nothing wrong with a medal “that recognizes commendable actions” off the battlefield—as the DWM is meant to do—”it’s absolutely necessary to ensure that combat valor awards are not diminished in any way.” The Pentagon introduced the DWM last month, saying it would rank in precedence above the Bronze Star Medal and sit directly below the Distinguished Flying Cross. This drew criticism from some veterans’ groups. “If the Pentagon will not reconsider the decision to rank this medal above the Purple Heart, the House will take action,” said Murphy. (See also Rooney release.)
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.