And the military bands played on.

Military bands can once again perform at community events, thanks to an Bay Area congressman’s amendment that was signed into law last month.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, wrote a National Defense Authorization Act amendment to fix a bureaucratic problem at the Defense Department which had been preventing events from hosting military bands even when their sponsor agrees to pay the cost.

Marine Corps Band“The provision represents a common-sense solution to a needless, bureaucratic problem,” Swalwell said in a news release Monday. “My job as a legislator is to identify problems and find a solution – and we did so in this case without costing the taxpayer a dime. Residents in my congressional district will once again be able to enjoy the patriotic music of the military bands at the Pleasanton Scottish Games.”

Swalwell introduced his amendment after a Marine Corps veteran in his 15th Congressional District informed him that the Marine Band San Diego was prohibited from playing at the Scottish Games held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton over Labor Day weekend. The Caledonian Club would have fully funded the band’s costs as it had in years past.

The Defense Department earlier last year had changed its prior policy and stopped allowing military bands to perform at community events, claiming that reimbursements from sponsoring organizations were not going to its correct account.

Some critics might accuse Swalwell of letting the bands fiddle while Rome burns – the NDAA also continues the controversial policy enacted in 2012 that allows indefinite military detentions without charge or trial. Some opponents also said the bill authorizes too much military spending, particularly at a time when other government programs are being slashed.

Swalwell actually voted against the House version of the NDAA last June, as did every other Bay Area House member except for Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; he also voted against a compromise version of the bill on Dec. 12. President Obama signed it into law Dec. 27.

Spokeswoman Alison Bormel later Monday said Swalwell was “disappointed with the bills as a whole.”

“The Congressman thought the bills authorize more money than necessary for the Department of Defense, fail to adequately address the problem of sexual assault in the military, and inadvisably keep the Guantanamo Bay prison open,” she said. “He voted against the bills as he thought they were not in line with his constituents’ priorities.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Marga

    I am not a fan of Swalwell, as you know, and I wish he was in the least concerned about human rights violations. But he is what he is. And as long as he’s there, he might as well fix problems for his constituents. That, after all, is part of his job.

  • Elwood

    Marga, won’t you please enlighten us as to why you think Swalwell is not in the least concerned about human rights violations?

  • Marga

    Because he has done nothing to stop the US from violating human rights, has not even spoken against such violations. He voted in favor of CISPA, he waited to see where the wind was blowing before taking a position on Syria, and while he did vote for the Amash amendment, he has taken no leadership on fighting the abuses by the NSA.

  • JohnW

    If he voted for the Amash/Conyers amendment (against the NSA meta-data surveillance program), I would prefer that he stick to the military band stuff.

  • Elwood

    “he has done nothing to stop the US from violating human rights,”

    Please elaborate on how the US violates human rights.

    ” he has taken no leadership on fighting the abuses by the NSA.”

    Please explain how a freshman congressman of the minority party would go about accomplishing the above 2 items.

  • JohnW

    This sounds like one of those blue book essay questions they gave us in college. By human rights violations, I think Marga is referring to the fact that the NSA has been doing surveillance, and doing it in secret. Imagine that, the National Security Agency gathering intellegence. Who would have guessed it? And doing this in secret, no less! If there is one thing we need, it’s transparency in spying.