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COMMITTEE ON FINANCE
REED SMOOT, Utah, Chairman JAMES E. WATSON, Indiana.
F. M. SIMMONS, North Carolina. DAVID A, REED, Pennsylvania.
PAT HARRISON, Mississippi. SAMUEL M. SHORTRIDGE, California. WILLIAM H. KING, Utah. JAMES COUZENS, Michigan.
WALTER F. GEORGE, Georgia. FRANK L. GREENE, Vermont.
DAVID I. WALSH, Massachusetts. CHARLES S. DENEEN, Illinois.
ALBEN W. BARKLEY, Kentucky. HENRY W. KEYES, New Hampshire.
ELMER THOMAS, Oklahoma. HIRAM BINGHAM, Connecticut.
TOM CONNALLY, Texas.
Isaac M. STEWART, Clerk
TO AMEND THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT OF 1924
THURSDAY, MAY 8, 1930
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 o'clock a. m., in room 312, Senate Office Building, Hon. Reed Smoot presiding.
Present: Senators Smoot (chairman), Watson, Reed, Couzens, Greene, Bingham, La Follette, Thomas of Idaho, Harrison, Walsh of Massachusetts, and Barkley.
The CHAIRMAN. We will proceed with the hearing. General Hines, you have stated all that you desire on this bill; have you?
General HINES. Yes, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF JOHN THOMAS TAYLOR, CHAIRMAN OF THE
NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE OF THE AMERICAN LEGION
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Taylor, you listened to the statement made by General Hines in relation to the bill as passed by the House. Will your statement carry out about the same ideas, or are they radically different?
Mr. Taylor. There are several of the sections on which we disagree with the Director of the Veterans' Bureau, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. It will take me only a few moments to explain our differences of opinion.
First, however, I should like to read for the record a telegram from the National Commander of the American Legion on this legislation, if I may. It is a release that he gave out to the press when a bill passed the House.
The American Legion has been and still is in favor of a conservative and constructive piece of legislation in keeping with the known needs of our disabled, and at the same time in accordance with the principles of economy. The Legion is in favor of a practical plan of procedure with reference to our disabled men's legislation. We believe in supporting legislation that can and will be enacted and approved, and thus become of benefit to the disabled.
Proposed legislation, as attractive as it may be, is of no benefit to the suffering comrade unless it becomes effective by presidential approval.
Our disabled are in need of immediate relief. Because of this need the legion has supported the Johnson bill as it came originally from the Veterans' Committee of the House. It would have benefited some 84,000 disabled men. It would have cost, according to estimate, less than $100,000,000. It would likely have met with the appropal of the President. We were willing to go so far as to amend this bill in order to reduce the cost if necessary to receive presidential approval. We want immediate relief for these veterans. What the disabled need is immediate and material assistance, and not a lot of theoretical ideas which have no chance of maturing for years to come.
The original Johnson bill is not perfect, but it would give needed assistance. Perfecting amendments could have been offered later without endangering the final approval of the basic provisions of the Johnson bill.
The Legion is a practical and unselfish organization, interested in our disabled and our country alike, and desirous of rendering service in keeping with a conservative and constructive program.
It is our hope that a splendid piece of legislation will he agreed upon as a result of senatorial consideration, and thus make it possible for the disabled to receive immediately the benefits of such legislation.
The bill which passed the House, H. R. 10381, upon which the Director of the Veterans' Bureau, General Hines, testified before this committee, contains 47 amendments to the World War veterans' act. Forty-three of them, which I will not mention, we are in perfect approval of. The others I should like to touch upon.
First, section 5:
Section 5 is the amendment which proposes to take the comptroller out of the Veterans' Bureau only so far as decisions on questions of law and medicine are concerned. That was stricken out of the bill in the House upon the recommendation of Will Wood; and when he talked about that particular section he emphasized the fact that the comptroller was a creature of the Congress, brought into existence solely for the purposes of the Congress, and responsible to Congress alone; and he gave the House the idea that this took the comptroller entirely out of the Veterans' Bureau.
As a matter of fact, the report of the Veterans' Committee states that this particular amendment would not interfere upon a preaudit or postaudit with the right of the Comptroller General to disallow expenditures by disbursing officers not in conformity with the decisions of the director. This amendment by the Veterans' Committee of the House intended that the director shall have the power to review any decision of the Comptroller General heretofore rendered, and, notwithstanding such decision, to pay the claim affected thereby if he believes it to be payable.
Our cause of complaint--and it is constant--is that the Comptroller General has to a certain degree supplanted the director, in that he has attorneys in the bureau, which attorneys, in passing upon questions of law, in fact pass upon medical evidence, and defeat the intent of the law as passed by Congress so far as vererans' relief is concerned.
We have no quarrel whatsoever with his auditing. We do ask that that amendment be put back in the bill, and that the comptroller be prevented from acting as counsel to the Veterans' Bureau.
In that regard you will recall that when the director testified he pointed out two sections of this bill. On one he agreed with the comptroller, and on the other he did not agree with the comptroller. I say that to show that the director does not always approve the comptroller's desicions.
One of the sections that the director discussed was the first amendment proposed to subdivision 7 of section 202, which would override the comptroller's decision in connection with the $50 a month arrested-tuberculosis award. The director asked that this proposed amendment be excluded from the Finance Committee's bill. We ask that it be excluded. The comptroller has ruled that arrestedtuberculosis men, in order to draw the $50 a month for the arrested tuberculosis, must have proven in fact active tuberculosis; and that was not the original intent of the law. That is where I say the comp