Guest Author - Evelyn Rainey
Bill # H.R.23, sponsored by Bob Filner, a Democrat from California’s 51st District and also Chairman for the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, is hoping to provide benefits (to the tune of about one thousand dollars a month!) to members of the U.S. Merchant Marines who served during World War II. As of 05/07/2009, 165 cosponsors (124 Democrats and 41 Republicans) have also signed on.
Specifically, H.R. 23 asks Congress
to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish the Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund to provide benefits to certain individuals who served in the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service) during World War II as a ''Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2009''.
The procedure for any bill or resolution begins with an introduction, then it is passed to committees which “deliberate, investigate, and revise them”. If a bill ever makes it past a committee, it goes to a general debate. Three-fourths of the states (75%) must vote to ratify this resolution. However, it may also be signed into law by the president unless it is a constitutional amendment.
01/06/2009: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
01/09/2009: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.
05/01/2009: Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Discharged.
05/06/2009: Committee Consideration and Mark-up Session Held.
05/06/2009: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote.
05/07/2009: Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 45.
05/07/2009: Reported (Amended) by the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. H. Rept. 111-99.
05/12/2009: Considered under suspension of the rules.
05/12/2009: DEBATE - The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 23.
05/12/2009: Mr. Filner moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended.
05/12/2009: Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.
05/12/2009: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.
05/13/2009: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
Members of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs are:
BOB FILNER, California, Chairman
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
VIC SNYDER, Arkansas
MICHAEL H. MICHAUD, Maine
STEPHANIE HERSETH SANDLIN, South Dakota
HARRY E. MITCHELL, Arizona
JOHN J. HALL, New York
PHIL HARE, Illinois
MICHAEL F. DOYLE, Pennsylvania
SHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada
JOHN T. SALAZAR, Colorado
CIRO D. RODRIGUEZ, Texas
JOE DONNELLY, Indiana
JERRY MCNERNEY, California
ZACHARY T. SPACE, Ohio
TIMOTHY J. WALZ, Minnesota
STEVE BUYER, Indiana, Ranking
CLIFF STEARNS, Florida
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
HENRY E. BROWN, JR., South Carolina
JEFF MILLER, Florida
JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
GINNY BROWN-WAITE, Florida
MICHAEL R. TURNER, Ohio
BRIAN P. BILBRAY, California
DOUG LAMBORN, Colorado
GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida
VERN BUCHANAN, Florida
Now, should this Bill pass, the Merchant Marine who served during WWII will need to prove he is eligible. An eligible individual is an individual who ‘‘during the one-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of the Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2009, submits to the Secretary an application containing such information and assurances as the Secretary may require;
has not received benefits under the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (Public Law 78–346);
and has engaged in qualified service.
A person has engaged in qualified service if, between December 7, 1941, and December 31, 1946, the person was a member of the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service) serving as a crewmember of a vessel that was
(i) operated by the War Shipping Administration or the Office of Defense Transportation (or an agent of the Administration or Office)
(ii) operated in waters other than inland waters, the Great Lakes, and other lakes, bays, and harbors of the United States
(iii) under contract or charter to, or property of, the Government of the United States
(iv) serving the Armed Forces; and while so serving, was licensed or otherwise documented for service as a crewmember of such a vessel by an officer or employee of the United States authorized to license or document the person for such service.
How much should you expect? “The Secretary shall make a monthly payment out of the compensation fund in the amount of $1,000 to an eligible individual. The Secretary shall make such payments to eligible individuals in the order in which the Secretary receives the applications of the eligible individuals.”
Get all of your documentation together, so that as soon as the Veterans Committee returns with the bill, you can submit your application.
Let the Committee on Veterans Affairs know where you stand on the H.R. 23 Money for WWII Merchant Marines. And don’t forget to let Bob Filner know how you feel about his attempt initiate this bill! Speak to your senators, write your representatives. Email them! It’s still stuck in the committee. Tell your politicians how you feel – one way or the other.
You fought for the freedom of having a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” There’s no such thing as a silent Democracy. Let your voice be heard on this issue!