Bordallo revives war claims:
Guam bill to piggy-back on defense spending act
By Amritha Alladi
Pacific Daily News
May 22, 2010
The island's World War II survivors are confident Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo will garner the congressional support she needs to pass an amendment to the fiscal 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that would pay war reparations to World War II survivors on Guam.
On Thursday, Bordallo announced she will include H.R. 44, The Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, as an addition to the 2011 defense spending bill, which was unanimously passed by the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.
The amendment will be added when the bill heads to the floor of the House of Representatives next week, Bordallo said in a press release.
"This strategy is identical to what was done with war claims in last year's defense spending bill due to procedural issues in the Armed Services Committee," Bordallo stated in the release. "The House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act will still need to be reconciled with the Senate's version of the defense spending bill. H.R. 44 remains my top legislative priority and I am confident that this strategy is the most effective means of advancing war claims legislation."
Last year, her amendment was successfully adopted by the full House by voice vote as part of a block of amendments during passage of the National Defense Authorization Act 2010, Bordallo's release stated. However, that war claims provision was excluded from the 2010 defense spending bill after Bordallo rejected a compromise measure from Senate leaders, Pacific Daily News files show.
According to Bordallo, the committee's chairman, Rep. Ike Skelton, has reiterated his support for the inclusion of war claims in the defense bill again this year.
But before the entire defense spending bill reaches the House floor for a final vote, it will be considered by the Rules Committee where they will make certain amendments in order.
The bill will then go to the floor where only amendments made in order by the Rules Committee are debated, according to Bordallo's office.
She said the amendment wasn't considered during full committee mark-up on Wednesday due to procedural issues with provisions that are out of the House Armed Services Committee's jurisdiction, Bordallo stated in her release.
According to Guam war survivor Tom Barcinas, this strategy is a pretty standard legislative procedure.
"The amendment is a very normal way of getting things through," he said yesterday. "I'm sure that (the) congresswoman will garner enough support."
Barcinas went to Washington, D.C., in December to share his stories of surviving the Japanese occupation of Guam during World War II. He also testified about the importance of war claims for a survivor, according to Pacific Daily News files.
He applauded Bordallo for her efforts to include this provision into this year's defense budget, adding that Bordallo should move on the issue expeditiously.
He said he's ready to mobilize support for the amendment if she needs it for the amendment to be included.
"If she needs anything from the Guam group, if we have to start a letter-writing campaign or e-mail to help her (convince) all members of the Congress, we'll be very happy to get things going," he said.
Bordallo last year did not accept a Senate compromise offer that would have paid reparations to living Chamorro survivors of World War II, but excluded payments to spouses and children of Guam's war survivors who have died.
Bordallo said at the time she believed the offer was contrary to what the community has said it wanted.
Bordallo's previous bill would have resulted in $126 million for war reparations for Guam survivors of the Japanese occupation during World War II.
Piti Mayor Ben Gumataotao said if it's the World War II survivors they need to focus on in the first round to get the amendment passed, that's fine. The immediate need is for the survivors, he said.
"A lot of the survivors are dying on a daily basis," Gumataotao said.
If needed, islanders can push for war claims for the survivors' heirs during a "second round," he said.
Since the U.S. decided to take on the responsibility of paying war claims from Japan, Gumataotao said it should honor that commitment.
"The responsibility should be coming from our lovely country the U.S," he said. "At that time, they took the responsibility, so let them be an honorable country."