War Reparations is once again an issue in the US Congress. The National Defense Authorization Act is being debated in the conference committee, and is currently part of the House version of the bill, but not the Senate version. In the next day or so, a decision will be made about whether or not Chamorros get war reparations this time around, or have to wait once again.
H.R. 2647 EH
TITLE XVI -- THE GUAM WORLD WAR II LOYALTY RECOGNITION ACT
- TITLE SUMMARY -
On December 8, 1941, just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Imperial Japanese forces attacked, invaded, and seized control of the island of Guam, a United States Territory. The island of Guam, inhabited by 22,000 U.S. nationals, was occupied for nearly three years. During this difficult and painful period, the people of Guam remained steadfastly loyal to the United States. For their loyalty and patriotism to the United States, they were subjected to public beheadings, beatings, rape, forced labor, and forced marches. In the closing days of the occupation, all residents were forced into concentration camps.
Congress passed the Guam Meritorious Claims Act of 1945 within weeks after the termination of hostilities to provide “immediate relief to the people of Guam.”
The 107th Congress passed the Guam War Claims Review Commission Act (P.L. 107-333) to establish a Commission to determine whether there was parity of war claims paid to the residents of Guam as compared with awards made to other similarly affected U.S. citizens or nationals during World War II.
The Commission reported to Congress with findings and recommendations in 2004. The Commission found that:
o Congress was misinformed when it excluded Guam from coverage under Title II of the War Claims Act of 1948, further amended in 1962.
o The people in Guam did not receive the same compensation as other similarly affected U.S. citizens and nationals.
o The United States Government has a “moral obligation” to provide redress to the people of Guam.
Title XVI is based upon the recommendations of the Guam War Claims Review Commission.
In the 110th Congress, the House of Representatives passed the corresponding bill to Title XVI (then H.R. 1595) with over a two-thirds majority, with a recorded vote of 288 yeas to 133 nays. The Senate was unable to pass it before adjourning for the year.
Congresswoman Bordallo reintroduced the bill in the 111th Congress as H.R. 44. The bill has the support of 88 bipartisan cosponsors. Prominent co-sponsors include the Chairman and past Ranking Members of the Committees on Natural Resources and the Judiciary, members of the leadership on both sides of the aisle, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
H.R. 44 passed the House of Representatives with strong bi-partisan support on February 23, 2009. The final vote was 299 yeas to 99 nays.