What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : Equal Access to Justice : Recognizing the suffering and loyalty of residents of Guam during World War II Loyalty (H.R. 1595)/On passage
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Recognizing the suffering and loyalty of residents of Guam during World War II Loyalty (H.R. 1595)/On passage
house Roll Call 309     May 08, 2007
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote was on adoption of legislation to recognize the suffering and loyalty of the Guam residents during World War II and the Japanese occupation. The bill would direct the Treasury Department to make payments to those who were killed, injured, raped, forced into labor or interned or to their survivors.

The measure was taken up by a procedure known as a suspension of the rules, basically a time-saving method used for relatively non-controversial legislation that is all but assured of passage. Suspending the rules means that the measure is unamendable and debate is limited to forty minutes on each side. Bills taken up under suspension of the normal House rules require a two-thirds majority for passage.

The bill was not without controversy, however. Many Republicans opposed it on grounds that Guam residents had already been adequately compensated for their suffering during World War II.

Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) said the bill gives parity to Guam after 63 years of "inequity and injustice."

"The question we must ask ourselves before this vote today is, will we ignore history? Will we be deaf to the testimonials of Guam's liberators, our U.S. servicemen, who spoke about Guam's patriotism in the face of enemy occupation? Will we vote against inequity for people who aided our military to take Guam back from the enemy, who greeted our military with tattered rags made into American flags?" Christensen asked.

Two federal commissions, one in 1947 and the other in 2004, reported to Congress that the people of Guam have not been made whole despite efforts to rehabilitate the island after Japanese occupation. Guam became an unincorporated territory of the United States in 1948. The federal commissions documented public executions by beheading, rapes and torture during the Japanese wartime occupation and both recommended that the United States make additional reparations. During the occupation, 22,000 American nationals were interned in camps on the island in the Western Pacific.

No Republicans spoke against the measure, but Del. Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) alluded to their opposition: "Mr. Speaker, it has been said among some of the critics of this legislation, saying that the people of Guam were properly compensated already. The way the whole thing has been presented, the procedures that were followed and the war claims that were made for the U.S. citizens left out the people of Guam. For some reason or another, I think our colleagues need to understand this a little more clearly."

In the end, 66 Republicans joined all but two Democrats in supporting the legislation. Thus, by a final vote of 288 to 133, the House sustained the two-thirds majority necessary to pass the bill under suspension of the rules, thereby voting to direct the Treasury Department to make payments to residents of Guam who were killed, injured, raped, forced into labor or interned under Japanese occupation during World War II, or to their survivors.

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