Government has suspended – but not ended – the clawback of re-enlistment bonuses given to thousands of current and former soldiers of the California National Guard for service in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Parties involved include the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, the National Guard Bureau, the California National Guard and, ultimately, the only body probably able to clean up the affair definitively: Congress. Congress is in recess until after the elections Nov. 8, back home, emitting elevated rhetoric about America’s warriors and asking citizens to vote for them to keep their jobs.

What happened was that during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the first of which has been underway since 2001 and the second since 2003, America’s armed forces were having predictable problems with recruitment. Consequently, the California National Guard, through a federal program, saw fit to offer its soldiers bonuses of thousands of dollars to re-enlist to fill the gaps.

Many of those soldiers are now being required to repay some $22 million that was paid to them at the time, apparently mistakenly. One of the problems involved in the current disastrous situation is fraud and mismanagement by California National Guard officials.

Each of the bodies involved, excluding the absent Congress, is claiming it is unable to shut off the squeeze on America’s warriors, so they and their families in principle continue to have the thousands of dollars in debt claimed by “government” hanging over their heads. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has suspended collection for the moment, but the issue remains unresolved and the debt to the government is partly unpaid.

Congress must fix this when it comes back from its election vacation, on an urgent basis. Soldiers who have already paid should get their money back, promptly, in full. This issue should be on top of Carter’s list, rather than some new war.