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Mr. TAYLOR. I have suggested an amendment in the previous bill, on page 2, line 6, after the period which follows the word “herein' to insert the following words:
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 71, title 31, United States Code, the Comptroller General of the United States is hereby authorized and directed to allow credit in the United States Veterans' Bureau for all payments authorized by the director heretofore or hereafter made from moneys appropriated for carrying out the provisions of the World War veterans' act, as amended.
In other words, the final authority is placed in the Director of the Veterans' Bureau.
Senator La FOLLETTE. That was not in the bill as it passed the Senate.
Mr. Taylor. In the bill as reported to the Senate, and as it passed the Senate?
Senator LA FOLLETTE. Yes.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Is that provision in the bill which passed the Senate?
Senator La FOLLETTE. I say, I do not think it was.
Mr. Taylor. No. That was stricken out. Now we are asking that it be put back again.
Mr. ROBERTS. That was in the House bill and was stricken out on the floor of the House.
Mr. TAYLOR. On Mr. Wood's request.
The second thing I wanted to speak about was what the Senator spoke about-Senator Shortridge--that is, the extension of the time for bringing suits on insurance. I think that the general himself has proven the case so far as that is concerned. The general says that if the time is extended for one year, there are 5,000 suits, probably, that will be filed at once, and that of those 5,000, 2,500 of them will prove their case against the Government. At the present time he is, you might say, making settlements, because he is allowing the cases to be adjudicated in favor of the claimant-not the suit, but the case upon wh ch the suit is filed. I think that is the best argument for this insurance provision being extended for a year. I do not think it is fair to men who bought this insurance and paid for it to be denied the privilege of bringing suit by the statute of limitations.
From the questioning that went on, it seems that the gentlemen think they can bring suits now. That is true only in isolated cases. The statute expired, as was stated, May 29, 1929. This extension proposes one year from the date of the passage of this act. The director has stated that probably 98 per cent of the suits have already been filed. I repeat that these men bought this insurance and paid for it, and that they should not be denied the right of bringing suit. The act should be extended for one year from the date of passage.
With relation to the “willful misconduct” provision, which I discussed with this committee previously, there seems to be some misunderstanding about that also, because the questions seemed to indicate the idea that the men are going to hospitals now. The amendment, as it was put into the law, specifically limited this exclusion of willful misconduct from the act to those men who had incurred this disability prior to November 11, 1918.
Senator CONNALLY. You mean in the Senate bill?
Mr. TAYLOR. Yes. That was 12 years ago. There are very few of those men who are going to the hospital now. They are either insane, or they are dead, or their disease is to a certain extent cured. What we are thinking about is the opportunity for those men who have gone insane to be placed in hospitals. There are no places for them now. They should not only be placed in hospitals, but paid compensation for the care of their dependents. This question about the man who has contracted a venereal disease since the war is not a question that we are proposing at all in this legislation. That man can not secure any out-patient treatment from the hospitals of the Veteran's Bureau because it is forbidden by law. The only thing he can do is to wait until his disease has reached the stage, as was brought out, where he is suffering from paresis, blindness, or is bedridden. Then he can get compensation. But, mark you, that is not the man we are talking about in this bill. · We are talking about the man who contracted this venereal disease prior to November 11, 1918, while in the service; and we feel that that man should be in a position to be hospitalized, and that compensation should be paid to him, and, more important, that his dependents should be taken care of, because we consider it just as much a war illness as any other illness.
Senator Thomas of Idaho. On that point, Commander Bodenhamer, in his telegram indorsing the bill, did not mention that.
Mr. TAYLOR. He did not mention that amendment at all. He just mentioned those other two amendments.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Would you be satisfied with having them included in the new provision of the House bill that gives a general pension?
Mr. Taylor. Senator, the disability under which those men were suffering was incurred in the service, just as much as any other disability.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. In other words, you want that group of veterans included in the service-connected cases.
Mr. TAYLOR. I think they should be; exactly so.
Senator CONNALLY. The language of the bill as it passed the Senate, in that connection, would be satisfactory, would it not?
Mr. TAYLOR. As it passed the Senate?
Mr. Taylor. Yes; just striking out the question of willful misconduct.
Senator BARKLEY. Could you accomplish that by simply striking out the language in this bill referring to willful misconduct?
Senator CONNALLY. No.
Mr. TAYLOR. So far as the other amendments to the bill are concerned, we have nothing to say, because there are experts here from the Pension Bureau who, we feel, are thoroughly competent to discuss that phase of the matter with you.
Senator BARKLEY. What is your opinion as to the sufficiency of this, assuming that a pension is to be substituted for the compensation system, for service-connected disabilities?
Senator La FOLLETTE. Nonservice connected disabilities, you mean?
Senator BARKLEY. No. I am assuming that we are going to add to the compensation laws for service-connected disabilities this pension for nonservice-connected disabilities. What is your view as to the sufficiency of this allowance?
Mr. TAYLOR. I am in no position to express an opinion on that, Senator. It is a matter which has never come before the American Legion at any time, as to the amount.
Senator BARKLEY. You would not want to give your individual views, then?
Mr. TAYLOR. No; I would not. I would like to confine myself just to the bill as Commander Bodenhamer pointed out.
Senator CONNALLY. If you do that, you are approving $40 as sufficient, because Commander Bodenhamer asks that the bill be passed as it is. Some of us do not think that $40 for total disability is enough.
Mr. Taylor. That is right, Senator. Some do and some do not.
Senator CONNALLY. You want this bill as it is. Then you are in favor of the $40 rate, are you not?
Mr. TAYLOR. No; I am not expressing any opinion about the sufficiency of those amounts.
Senator CONNALLY. How do you construe the telegram from the national commander?
Mr. Taylor. The national commander says that that particular section of the bill is one which Congress itself inserted in it, and it was one which was in lieu of our section, which we had presented; and that since Congress had done it, it was the responsibility and the obligation of Congress. On that I make no comment.
Senator BARKLEY. Would you be willing to express an opinion as to the feeling of the World War veterans on that subject, in view of recent legislation for the Spanish-American War veterans?
Mr. TAYLOR. As to amount?
Mr. Taylor. No, sir; I would not. Of course, there is no question that that provision in the present bill, as it came over from the House, takes care of a great many more veterans than we proposed to take care of.
Senator BARKLEY. Yes; but it does not take care of them in the same way or to the same extent.
Mr. Taylor. No; because, in figuring up the amounts, I notice that the average is about $18, and the average to-day for service-connected disabilities, is $43.
Senator THOMAS of Idaho. The commander, in his telegram, approves the bill, and suggests two amendments.
Senator BINGHAM. May I read just those words? I have just been looking at the telegram: I request that you speak for me and assure them
Speaking of this committee--of our appreciation of their interest in this disabled legislation and urge them to report out immediately the bill with amendments suggested above thus making possible the speedy enactment of this legislation into law.”
Senator WATSON. Senator, as this is simply the beginning, we can be sure that each succeeding Congress will raise those rates.
Senator BARKLEY. If that is so, why let those who are going to die between now and then get a mere pittance?
Senator CONNALLY. I feel that with the weight of their influence in this matter, they are going to get $40 instead of $60.
Mr. TAYLOR. I do not think so.
Senator CONNALLY. That is what you are coming here and asking us for.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Your feeling is that if this is the best you can get, you had better take it.
Mr. TAYLOR. At this time. This is legislation that there is some hope of getting through now.
Senator WALSH of Massachusetts. I have observed for the first time some sentiment among members of the Legion, not only against the original bill that was passed, but even against this House bill. Is that a substantial element in the organization?
Mr. TAYLOR. Against this bill as reported?
Mr. TAYLOR. Senator, I have not received any complaint against that House bill in our office at all.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. There are members of the legion, of course, who are against any further extension of benefits. Mr. TAYLOR. Against any further extension of benefits?
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Against any further extension of benefits to disabled veterans.
Mr. Taylor. I did not know that. I thought they were all in favor of extension of benefits.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. I have received some telegrams from people claiming to represent organizations in my State, practically declaring themselves against any legislation. I think that the telegrams came from individuals who were members of the directorate of a post rather than the post itself. That is why I ask you. You say there is not any substantial proof of members of the American Legion that are opposed to legislation either along the lines of this House bill, or the bill that was passed.
Mr. TAYLOR. None that I know of; no, sir.
Senator BARKLEY. I received to-day a telegram from the commander of a post in Kentucky declaring against the substitution of this pension system for disabilities as compared with the bill which we passed and which was vetoed.
Mr. Taylor. Our section 200?
Senator BARKLEY. Your section 200. Is there any way to estimate, if this thing were submitted to the American Legion all over the United States, as to the institution of the pension system now, as compared to an extension of compensation along the lines indicated in this previous legislation, how they would stand on it?
Mr. Taylor. There is, after the expiration of a certain length of time, after informing them upon the two phases of the subject. I can assure you that the Boston convention of the American Legion will have this matter before it and take some very definite action on it.
Senator BARKLEY. At present there is not any way of estimating the sentiment?
Mr. TAYLOR. No, there is not.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Why do we speak of this as a pension proposition?
Senator BARKLEY. Because that is what it is. We call it something else in order not to offend the sensibilities.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. A pension, as I understand it, would apply to all men, regardless of their physical or service condition.
Senator BARKLEY. That is not so of the Civil War or the SpanishAmerican War.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. I had that thought in my mind. The relief here is given, as I understand it, only to veterans of the war suffering some disability incurred during service, or since then.
Senator BarkLEY. That is true; but that is true also, of the SpanishAmerican War pension.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. I grant that. I do not term this a pension bill when it is granted upon the basis of disability incurred in war, or since.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Relief for disabilities incurred out of war is justified only on the theory that the Government is grateful and does not want anyone who ever served it in time of war to become a pauper.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. I grant you that. My point was only in connection with the use of the word "pension." It is neither here nor there. The fact is well understood.
Senator WATSON. When the bonus bill was passed the American Legion assured us at that time that it would not, if it could prevent it, go to a pension system.
Mr. TAYLOR. We did. I stated that before this committee the last time.
Senator WATSON. The members of the legion, the rank and file everywhere, have been indoctrinated with that doctrine.
Mr. Taylor. Certainly.
Senator Watson. Now, when you suddenly shift to a pension system, as a matter of course they do not favor it.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. With great respect, I do not think we are shifting to a pension system.
Senator Watson. It is nothing but a pension. It is not a service pension. It is a disability pension. You can call it a disability allowance if you please, or a disability pension.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. The bonus, as I understand it, applied to all, did it not?
Mr. Taylor. Not all, but almost all.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. That was more or less in the nature of a pension, or gift, or bonus. But I do not term this a pension bill, using the word "pension" in the sense that I give it.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Do you call it a disability bill?
Senator SHORTRIDGE. I call it a bill to help those suflering as a result of war service, or as a result of some mishap since then.
Mr. Taylor. I just wanted to concur in what General Hines said, and urge the early report of the Williamson bill, H. R. 10630, to consolidate these various bureaus so that they could function in better liaison with each other.
Senator WATSON. Who else was it who wanted to be heard?
Senator CONNALLY. There is a witness here from the Pension Bureau.
Senator Watson. Senator Connally wanted to hear him.