Sunday, April 20, 2008

War Claims Bill Stalled in Senate

War claims passage stalled
S.C. senator objects to fast-track procedure
By Steve Limtiaco • Pacific Sunday News • April 20, 2008

The U.S. Senate on Thursday attempted to pass the Guam war claims bill -- the last step before action by President Bush -- but the effort failed after a Republican senator from South Carolina objected.

If the bill introduced by Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo becomes law, it would require the federal government to spend as much as $126 million to compensate Guam residents for the atrocities they suffered at the hands of the Japanese military during the occupation of Guam during World War II. An additional $5 million would be spent on programs to memorialize the occupation.

Guam is seeking compensation from the United States instead of Japan because the U.S. forgave Japan's war debt decades ago.

The Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, which already was approved by the House of Representatives, has been with the Senate Judiciary Committee for nearly a year.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., on Thursday tried to fast-track Senate passage of the bill -- making a motion for "unanimous consent," which would have bypassed the normal committee approval and floor-voting process.

The bill would have been approved provided there were no objections, but Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., stated an objection.

The reason for DeMint's objection wasn't stated in the Congressional Record, but his action defeated Boxer's motion.

Boxer minutes earlier had asked the Senate for unanimous consent on a bill to compensate relatives of U.S. citizens killed during terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, but DeMint objected to that motion, as well.

Ongoing effort
Bordallo yesterday said efforts to pass the war claims bill in the Senate are ongoing.

"I continue to work closely with Chairman Leahy and Majority Leader Harry Reid on ways to secure timely Senate consideration and passage of H.R. 1595," Bordallo said.

"Together, we are working hard to pass this bill with bipartisan support and to ensure all senators have all the information they need and that they understand why this bill is important to the people of Guam and to our national security," she said in a written statement.

"I am grateful for the bipartisan support for H.R. 1595. Our friends in the Senate are very much engaged in helping us with this bill. Chairman Leahy has assured me that he continues to work very hard to pass H.R. 1595."

According to the Senate Web site, "unanimous consent requests with only immediate effects are routinely granted, but ones affecting the floor schedule, the conditions of considering a bill or other business, or the rights of other senators are normally not offered, or a floor leader will object to it, until all senators concerned have had an opportunity to inform the leaders that they find it acceptable."

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