Filipino Vets Bill Linked to Bailouts

Posted September 22, 2008 at 12:24pm

Linking larger economic concerns to bills quietly moving across the House floor on Monday, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) questioned whether it was “appropriate” to pass $198 million legislation to provide retroactive benefits for World War II Filipino veterans at a time when financial markets are tanking.

“Is this the timing that you want, in the middle of a possible financial meltdown in America, that you want to give … taxpayer funds to people in the Philippines who are not U.S. citizens? I just wonder whether the timing is appropriate here in Congress,” Stearns said.

Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) defended the bill that was otherwise positioned for smooth passage on the suspension calendar. She said the bill provides long overdue support to people in her district with no health care and little wealth.

“If we can spend billions of dollars, as will be coming before this House, $700 billion to assist corporations of people who made millions of dollars, surely we can issue a check for work that has been done,” she said. “These are real people, these are not corporations. …They are surviving on paychecks of $500 and $600 a month.”

Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bob Filner (D-Calif.) said he wanted the bill to authorize more money, but opponents would not allow it to pass with a higher authorization.