House backs military burial honor for women pilots

A man pauses at a grave during Memorial Day celebrations at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia May 25, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives voted unanimously on Tuesday to allow women pilots from World War Two to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the vast military cemetery just outside Washington.

The vote was 385-0.

If passed by the Senate and signed into the law, the measure would allow the cremated remains of about 1,000 women who served as Women's Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, during World War Two, to be buried there.

They performed training and transport missions in the United States so male pilots could be sent overseas. However, unlike male veterans, they cannot be interred at Arlington, the best-known U.S. military cemetery, because authorities insist their service was not the same as active duty.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Representative Martha McSally, who was the first woman U.S. Air Force pilot to fly combat missions.

Senate leaders have not scheduled a vote on the bill, but some have said it could be included in another, broader measure, such as a spending bill, this year. The measure also has strong bipartisan support in the Senate.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sandra Maler)