WASHINGTON, D.C. - Following Senate and House passage of different versions of S. 1315, a comprehensive veterans' benefits bill, U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, sought a conference between representatives from the two chambers to negotiate a final version of this important legislation. Akaka's effort to start negotiations on the bill was obstructed by an objection to his motion to go to conference.
"I was disappointed but not surprised by the latest effort to obstruct progress on the Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007. Both the House and Senate have passed separate versions of this comprehensive veterans' benefits bill, and my motion today would have allowed members of the House and Senate to meet and come to an agreement. Unfortunately, at least one of my colleagues objected to even negotiating this important bill," said Akaka.
As passed by the Senate, the Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 was a comprehensive, budget-neutral veterans' benefits bill. Among other provisions, it would provide a veterans' pension to Filipino veterans of World War II who served under U.S. military command. Some Filipino veterans who served under U.S. military command have been denied veterans' benefits for over 60-years.
The Senate-passed version of the legislation also included a multitude of improvements to veterans' benefits, including provisions to:
After passing the Senate, S. 1315 was amended in the House to remove many of these provisions from the bill, including the benefits for Filipino veterans who served under U.S. military command in World War II.
S. 1315 was originally introduced on May 7, 2007, and passed the Senate by a vote of 96-1 on April 24, 2008. The House passed an amended version of S. 1315 earlier this week. Because the two chambers passed different versions of the bill, Akaka sought a conference between representatives from the House and Senate to negotiate a final version of the bill.
The House-passed version of S. 1315 remains pending before the Senate.