This vote was on an amendment by Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., that would delete $221 million in new pension enefits for Filipino veterans living in the Philippines who served in the U.S. military during WWII. The money would be redirected toward additional housing, education and burial assistance for U.S. veterans. The amendment was offered to a broad bill that would increase veterans’ benefits.
“I appreciate the good work our Filipino allies contributed to our effort in the Far East, but I have to say that the problem I have with this bill … is that the U.S. Treasury is not bottomless, and the funding that is being provided to create this new pension for these Filipino allies, which were of course fighting not only with us but for themselves and for the freedom of their country, is that it would literally be at the expense of U.S. veterans,” said John Cornyn, R-Texas, who cosponsored the amendment with Burr.
Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who himself is a decorated WWII veteran, said during WWII Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order incorporating all military forces inside the Philippines into the service of the United States. At the time, General MacArthur promised that all Philippine units would be paid and supplied from American sources.
“I believe it is the moral obligation of this Nation to provide for those who served under the U.S. flag and alongside the U.S. troops during World War II,” Inouye said. “The people of the Philippines did not shy from the call to fight during World War II. They were true brothers in arms who fought valiantly under U.S. command in World War II. This bill, at long last, recognizes the valor of all Filipino veterans in sacrifice to this noble cause and loyalty to their American commanders.”
Inouye added that that the measure takes into account the lower cost of living in the Philippines and as a result the pension benefit is less than one-third of what is provided to veterans living in the United States.
By a vote of 41-56, the amendment was rejected. All but seven Republicans present voted for the amendment. All but one Democrat present voted against the amendment (Evan Bayh of Indiana). The end result is that the bill went forward with $221 million to establish a new pension benefit for Filipinos who fought for the U.S. during WWII.