Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?

111th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                     111-99

======================================================================



 
 BELATED THANK YOU TO THE MERCHANT MARINERS OF WORLD WAR II ACT OF 2009

                                _______
                                

  May 7, 2009.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Filner, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                         [To accompany H.R. 23]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 23) 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, having considered the 
same, report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend 
that the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Amendment........................................................     2
Purpose and Summary..............................................     3
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     7
Committee Votes..................................................     7
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     8
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     8
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures     8
Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits.............................     8
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................     8
Congressional Budget Office Estimate.............................     8
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................    10
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................    10
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................    10
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................    10
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................    10
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............    11
Additional Views.................................................    14

                               Amendment

    The amendment is as follows:
    Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Belated Thank You to the Merchant 
Mariners of World War II Act of 2009''.

SEC. 2. PAYMENTS TO INDIVIDUALS WHO SERVED DURING WORLD WAR II IN THE 
                    UNITED STATES MERCHANT MARINE.

  (a) Establishment of Compensation Fund.--Subchapter II of chapter 5 
of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the 
following new section:

``Sec. 533. Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund

  ``(a) Compensation Fund.--(1) There is in the general fund of the 
Treasury a fund to be known as the `Merchant Mariner Equity 
Compensation Fund' (in this section referred to as the `compensation 
fund').
  ``(2) Subject to the availability of appropriations for such purpose, 
amounts in the compensation fund shall be available to the Secretary 
without fiscal year limitation to make payments to eligible individuals 
in accordance with this section.
  ``(b) Eligible Individuals.--(1) An eligible individual is an 
individual who--
          ``(A) 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;
          ``(B) has not received benefits under the Servicemen's 
        Readjustment Act of 1944 (Public Law 78-346); and
          ``(C) has engaged in qualified service.
  ``(2) For purposes of paragraph (1), a person has engaged in 
qualified service if, between December 7, 1941, and December 31, 1946, 
the person--
          ``(A) 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; and
                  ``(iv) serving the Armed Forces; and
          ``(B) 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.
  ``(c) Amount of Payments.--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.
  ``(d) Authorization of Appropriations.--(1) There are authorized to 
be appropriated to the compensation fund amounts as follows:
          ``(A) For fiscal year 2010, $120,000,000.
          ``(B) For fiscal year 2011, $108,000,000.
          ``(C) For fiscal year 2012, $97,000,000.
          ``(D) For fiscal year 2013, $85,000,000.
          ``(E) For fiscal year 2014, $75,000,000.
  ``(2) Funds appropriated to carry out this section shall remain 
available until expended.
  ``(e) Reports.--The Secretary shall include, in documents submitted 
to Congress by the Secretary in support of the President's budget for 
each fiscal year, detailed information on the operation of the 
compensation fund, including the number of applicants, the number of 
eligible individuals receiving benefits, the amounts paid out of the 
compensation fund, the administration of the compensation fund, and an 
estimate of the amounts necessary to fully fund the compensation fund 
for that fiscal year and each of the three subsequent fiscal years.
  ``(f) Regulations.--The Secretary shall prescribe regulations to 
carry out this section.''.
  (b) Regulations.--Not later than 180 days after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall prescribe the regulations 
required under section 532(f) of title 38, United States Code, as added 
by subsection (a).
  (c) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
such chapter is amended by inserting after the item related to section 
532 the following new item:

``533. Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund.''.

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 23 was introduced on January 6, 2009, by 
Representative Bob Filner of California, Chairman of the 
Committee on Veterans' Affairs. H.R. 23, as amended, would 
establish the Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund to 
provide benefits, subject to the availability of 
appropriations, 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.
    H.R. 23, as amended, would direct the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs to pay a monthly benefit of $1,000 to qualifying 
honorably-discharged individuals of the United States merchant 
marine (including members of the Army Transport Service and the 
Naval Transport Service) who served between December 7, 1941, 
and December 31, 1946.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    The merchant marine was the nation's first navy and 
assisted the Continental Army in defeating the British during 
the Revolutionary War. Since 1775, the merchant marine has 
served in peace and in every war. After the terrorist attacks 
of September 11, 2001, 29 merchant marine academy students 
operated a fleet of boats in New York Harbor, transporting 
firefighters and other emergency equipment workers, medical 
supplies and food. Today, more than 8,000 mariners serve in the 
Military Sealift Command, most of them working in support of 
Operation Iraqi Freedom. The merchant mariners are also 
recognized at the World War II Memorial. The United States 
Merchant Marine Academy is the only one of our five military 
academies that sends its cadets into war--142 of these cadets 
perished during WWII. Current estimates of the surviving 
merchant mariners of WWII range from 10,000 to 16,000. The 
Committee adopted the 10,000 figure.
    The merchant mariners of World War II were a volunteer, 
civilian military corps that served honorably in combat during 
the war, but were denied veterans' benefits for their service 
until 1988 after a successful court challenge. By most reports, 
the World War II merchant marine suffered the greatest 
casualties of any of the fighting branches--with nearly one-in-
26 dying in battle. By comparison, the death rate for the U.S. 
Marine Corps was one-in-33, in the Army, one-in-48, in the 
Navy, one-in-114, and in the Coast Guard one-in-421. Before the 
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, more than 240 mariners had 
already perished.

Historical analysis

    In 1936, the Merchant Marine Act was enacted (Public Law 
74-835) to rebuild our nation's merchant marine which had 
decreased significantly after World War I. Title I of the 
Merchant Marine Act stated as a ``Declaration of Policy'' that 
the United States ``shall have a merchant marine * * * capable 
of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or 
national emergency[.]'' Also in 1936, President Roosevelt 
created the U.S. Maritime Commission to oversee the rebuilding 
of this fleet. The U.S. Maritime Service (USMS), the training 
arm established in 1938, built up the number of merchant 
mariners from the pre-war strength of 55,000 to 250,000 men at 
the end of World War II. In addition, President Roosevelt 
established maritime training facilities; the first at 
Sheepshead Bay, New York, and also in 1942, the United States 
Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. These 
facilities trained well over 150,000 mariners. In February 
1942, the U.S. War Shipping Administration (WSA), as an 
emergency wartime agency, took control of the purchasing, 
chartering, requisition and operation of commercial shipping 
vessels. Generally, only the day-to-day operations were the 
responsibility of the private shipping lines. As emergency 
construction began to replace wartime losses, the new ships 
were allocated among the private companies. The companies were 
paid fixed fees in addition to the charter rates for their 
ships. The WSA assumed all operating responsibilities and 
insurance liability for war-risk losses.
    With the quick buildup of the Liberty ship cargo fleet, the 
country desperately needed people to man them. The merchant 
marine fleet rapidly grew from a few hundred to thousands of 
ships. A Liberty ship was considered successful if it made one 
voyage with war materiel. These ships were produced with 
amazing speed, most within eight weeks, some in as short as a 
week. They were not meant to be indispensable. Because of their 
bulkiness, they were also very slow and became easy targets for 
enemy air and water attacks. The U.S. plan became to build the 
ships faster than the enemy could sink them.
    The WSA played an active role in the recruitment and 
training of World War II merchant mariners. As the parent 
agency, it organized three subsidiary units to deal with 
manpower issues: the Recruitment and Manning Organization; the 
Training Organization; and, the Maritime Labor Relations 
Organizations. Many of the mariners belonged to a union and 
were covered by collective bargaining agreements with the 
private shipping companies. This relationship was completely 
reorganized by the WSA in 1942 and various agreements were 
reached to maintain existing arrangements. While at war, the 
WSA, through the Maritime Labor Relations Organizations, worked 
with both the operators and unions in establishing a uniform 
scale and working conditions aboard WSA ships. Merchant 
mariners of World War II were recruited, trained in gunnery, 
and received health care treatment, life insurance and 
compensation (although indirectly) from the Federal government. 
Throughout World War II, all merchant mariners were under the 
auspices and control of the WSA.
    Thirty-seven official government USMS recruiting offices 
were established around the country with many offices located 
next to Navy and Coast Guard offices. Merchant mariners were 
not subject to the draft as long as they did not leave the 
service of any ship for longer than 30 days. According to 
testimony presented during the full Committee hearing on H.R. 
23, in the 110th Congress, many of these men were steered from 
the uniformed branches and ordered to join the merchant marine 
because, reportedly, they were told by recruiters ``that's 
where our country needs you.'' The merchant marine worked some 
of the most perilous jobs during the war and their ships and 
crews were on the front lines of battle. Compared to the large 
number of men and women serving in World War II, the numbers of 
the merchant marine were small, but their chance of dying 
during service was extremely high, as it took anywhere from 
eight to 15 tons of supplies to support one soldier for one 
year at the front.
    On December 29, 1940, President Roosevelt delivered his 
``Arsenal of Democracy'' speech, indicating that he would 
deploy ships with supplies to help Great Britain. In 1941, 
Germany, in an attempt to isolate supplies to England, deployed 
its U-boats to the Atlantic. The U-boats, singly and in ``wolf 
packs,'' sank or damaged many ships crossing the Atlantic with 
supplies, but also found prime targets in the ships off the 
U.S. Coast from Maine to Florida, where merchant marine ships 
operated without military escort or convoy. Germany was also 
successful in curtailing merchant marine ships bringing 
petroleum and supplies through the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf 
of Mexico. In the first six months of 1942, German U-boats sank 
more than 400 merchant marine ships, more ships than had been 
built. Between 1941 and 1944, enemy forces sank more than 800 
ships. About 600 mariners were prisoners of war and another 
11,000 were injured.
    With regard to pay, the average merchant mariner was paid 
on par with average Navy seaman as confirmed by Navy reports. 
Unlike the other servicemembers, merchant mariners were only 
paid when they were working on a ship. They received no 
vacation, sick or dock pay, and were not paid when their ships 
were torpedoed and sank, when they were on life boats, when 
injured, maimed, or when they became POWs. They were also 
subject to income tax and Victory Tax, from which the uniformed 
branches were exempt. Most families received just $5,000 from 
the WSA when the mariner died in combat. Merchant mariners were 
also eligible for bonuses, but evidence indicates that during 
the war these were inconsistent and intermittent. According to 
the Congressional Research Service in a report entitled 
``Veterans Benefits: Merchant Seaman'' dated May 8, 2007, the 
issue of pay comparability is ``extremely difficult'' to sort 
out.

After the War

    On June 22, 1944, President Roosevelt signed into public 
law the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 (Public Law 78-
346). This act, commonly known as the ``GI Bill'' or ``GI Bill 
of Rights'' gave members of the Armed Forces who served at 
least 90 days anywhere geographically between December 7, 1941, 
and December 31, 1946, unemployment benefits, unprecedented 
education assistance, VA health care and counseling, housing 
and small business loans as well. The vast and enduring 
positive socio-economic effects of this final piece of New Deal 
legislation are widely touted. It is reported by many scholars 
that passage of this bill contributed to the country's ability 
to avoid a post-war depression, to expand the reach of higher 
education, and to build the middle class. When signing the GI 
Bill, President Roosevelt stated ``I trust that Congress will 
soon provide similar opportunities to members of the merchant 
marine who have risked their lives time and time again during 
war for the welfare of their country.''
    Efforts in Congress to extend the benefits of the 1944 GI 
Bill of Rights, primarily through the Merchant Mariner 
Readjustment Act (H.R. 2346, 79th Congress), failed in 
Committee, due mostly to pressure and opposition from the 
uniformed branches and the veterans service organizations. As a 
result, the merchant mariners of World War II did not receive 
any of the benefits of the 1944 GI Bill.
    The effort to attain veteran status resurfaced after many 
years of denial by the Civilian Military Service Review Board 
(that determined active duty services for the purposes of 
veterans benefits), when in 1988, three merchant mariners 
including Stanley Willner, who testified during the full 
Committee hearing held during the 110th Congress on April 18, 
2007, successfully sued for veteran status for the merchant 
mariners of World War II.\1\ Accordingly, on January 19, 1988, 
in adherence to the Schumacher decision, the merchant mariners 
who served between December 7, 1941, and August 15, 1945, 
attained veteran status. At that point, over 40 years later, 
the education benefits had expired and over 125,000 merchant 
mariners had died.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Schumacher, Willner et al. v. Secretary of the Air Force Edward 
C. Aldridge, Jr., 665 F. Supp. 41 (D.D.C. 1987).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Secretary of the Air Force, who headed the Civilian 
Military Service Review Board, established the cut-off date for 
qualifying service of merchant mariners as August 15, 1945, 
although the official end of the war was December 31, 1946, for 
members of the Armed Forces. This move denied a few thousand 
mariners veteran's benefits. In 1998, President William J. 
Clinton signed into law the ``Veterans Programs Enhancement Act 
of 1998'' (Public Law 105-368) that gave mariners who served 
from August 15, 1945, to December 31, 1946, limited veterans 
benefits. However, these men received certificates, not 
honorable discharges, and their service is not considered 
active duty for the purposes of receipt of VA benefits.
    H.R. 23 seeks to rectify the lost benefits sustained by all 
of the merchant mariners of World War II, who served from 
December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946, by providing a 
$1,000 monthly payment, subject to the availability of 
appropriations, to qualifying living merchant mariners 
(including qualifying individuals of the Army Transport and 
Naval Transportation Service who were civilian sealift 
personnel), subject to the availability of appropriations.

                                Hearings

    No hearings were held on H.R. 23 in the 111th Congress. A 
hearing was held in the 110th Congress pursuant to reporting 
similar legislation to the House of Representatives where that 
measure was agreed to on July 30, 2007, by voice vote.

                        Committee Consideration

    On May 6, 2009, the full Committee met in an open markup 
session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 23, as 
amended, reported favorably to the House of Representatives, by 
voice vote. During consideration of the bill the following 
amendments were considered:
    An amendment in the nature of a substitute, offered by Mr. 
Filner of California to make certain technical changes to H.R. 
23, as introduced, was agreed to by voice vote.
    An amendment by Mr. Buyer of Indiana to the amendment in 
the nature of a substitute to change the name of the 
compensation fund and to include, for purposes of compensation, 
individuals whose service has been determined to have been 
active duty service pursuant to section 1401 of the GI Bill 
improvement Act of 1977 was not agreed to by a record vote.

                            Committee Votes

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires the Committee to list the record votes 
on the motion to report the legislation and amendments thereto. 
An amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Mr. 
Filner was agreed to by voice vote. A motion by Mr. Teague of 
New Mexico to order H.R. 23, as amended, reported favorably to 
the House of Representatives was agreed to by voice vote.
    An amendment by Mr. Buyer of Indiana was not agreed to by a 
record vote of 14 yeas and 15 nays. The names of Members voting 
for and against follow:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   NAME                       YEA       NAY     PRESENT
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Filner...............................  ........        X
Mr. Buyer................................        X
Ms. Brown................................  ........        X
Mr. Stearns..............................        X
Mr. Snyder...............................        X
Mr. Moran................................        X
Mr. Michaud..............................  ........        X
Mr. Brown................................        X
Ms. Herseth Sandlin......................        X
Mr. Miller...............................        X
Mr. Mitchell.............................  ........        X
Mr. Boozman..............................        X
Mr. Hall.................................  ........        X
Mr. Bilbray..............................        X
Mrs. Halvorson...........................  ........        X
Mr. Lamborn..............................        X
Mr. Perriello............................  ........        X
Mr. Bilirakis............................        X
Mr. Teague...............................  ........        X
Mr. Buchanan.............................        X
Mr. Rodriguez............................  ........        X
Mr. Roe..................................        X
Mr. Donnelly.............................        X
Mr. McNerney.............................  ........        X
Mr. Space................................  ........        X
Mr. Walz.................................  ........        X
Mr. Adler................................  ........        X
Mrs. Kirkpatrick.........................  ........        X
Mr. Nye..................................        X
    Total................................       14        15
------------------------------------------------------------------------

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goals and objectives are reflected in the descriptive portions 
of this report.

   New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee adopts as its 
own the estimate of new budget authority, entitlement 
authority, or tax expenditures or revenues contained in the 
cost estimate prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

                  Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits

    H.R. 23 does not contain any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9(d), 9(e), or 9(f) of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives.

                        Committee Cost Estimate

    The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate on H.R. 
23 prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office 
pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the following is the cost estimate 
for H.R. 23 provided by the Congressional Budget Office 
pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974:
                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                       Washington, DC, May 7, 2009.
Hon. Bob Filner,
Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 23, the Belated 
Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2009.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Dwayne M. 
Wright.
            Sincerely,
                                          Peter H. Fontaine
                              (For Douglas W. Elmendorf, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 23--Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act 
        of 2009

    Summary: H.R. 23 would make certain individuals who served 
as merchant mariners for the United States during World War II 
eligible for a monthly payment from the Department of Veterans 
Affairs (VA) and would require VA to prepare an annual report 
on the status of the new benefit program. CBO estimates that 
implementing H.R. 23 would cost $113 million in 2010 and $438 
million over the 2010-2014 period, assuming appropriation of 
the authorized amounts. Enacting the bill would not affect 
direct spending or receipts.
    H.R. 23 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) 
and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of H.R. 23 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 700 
(veterans' benefits and services).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                          2010-
                                                              2010     2011     2012     2013     2014     2014
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Authorization Level.......................................      120      108       97       85       75      485
Estimated Outlays.........................................      113       99       87       75       64      438
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For this estimate, CBO assumes that H.R. 23 will be enacted 
near the beginning of fiscal year 2010 and that the specified 
amounts will be appropriated near the start of each fiscal 
year.
    Basis of estimate: H.R. 23 would entitle certain 
individuals who served with the U.S. Merchant Marine during 
World War II to a monthly benefit of $1,000, subject to the 
availability of funds provided for that purpose. To be eligible 
for the benefit, individuals would need to apply within a year 
of the bill's enactment and demonstrate that they served as a 
merchant marine between December 7, 1941, and December 31, 
1946, on a vessel that was:
           Operated by the War Shipping Administration 
        or the Office of Defense Transportation;
           Operated in waters other than inland waters, 
        the Great Lakes, and other lakes, bays, and harbors of 
        the United States;
           Under contract or charter to, or property of 
        the government of the United States; and
           Serving the armed forces.
    H.R. 23 would establish the Merchant Mariner Equity 
Compensation Fund. Amounts in the fund would be used to pay the 
monthly benefit to eligible individuals, on a first-come, 
first-served basis. The bill would specifically authorize the 
appropriation for each year as shown in the table.
    Based on information from VA on the number of merchant 
mariners that served during the specified period, their average 
age, and on mortality rates from the Department of Defense 
(DoD), CBO estimates that, in 2010, about 38,000 merchant 
mariners would have the requisite service to qualify for the 
benefit. We estimate that one-quarter of them, about 9,500, 
would apply for the benefit. The amounts authorized in H.R. 23 
would allow 10,000 merchant mariners to receive the monthly 
benefit in 2010. Therefore, CBO estimates that all of the 
applicants would receive the full benefit in 2010, assuming the 
authorized amount is appropriated.
    Using the DoD mortality rates, CBO estimates that the 
amounts authorized for 2011 through 2014, if appropriated, 
would be sufficient to continue providing monthly payments to 
surviving beneficiaries.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: H.R. 23 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA and would not affect the budgets of state, 
local, or tribal governments.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: Dwayne M. Wright; 
Impact on state, local, and tribal governments: Lisa Ramirez-
Branum; Impact on the private sector: Elizabeth Bass.
    Estimate approved by: Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 23 prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 423 of the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

                      Advisory Committee Statement

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act would be created by H.R. 
23.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that the 
Constitutional authority for H.R. 23 is provided by Article I, 
section 8 of the Constitution of the United States.

                  Applicability to Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation


Section 1. Short title

    Section 1 would provide the short title of H.R. 23 as the 
``Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II 
Act of 2009.''

Section 2. Payments to individuals who served during World War II in 
        the United States merchant marine

    This section allows for payments to individuals who served 
during World War II in the United States merchant marine.
    This section, by addition of a new section 533, would amend 
subchapter II of chapter 5 of title 38, United States Code, to 
establish a Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund 
(compensation fund) in the general fund of the Treasury.
    This new section would make funds in the compensation fund, 
which are subject to the availability of appropriations, 
available to the Secretary of the VA to distribute payments to 
eligible individuals without fiscal year limitation.
    Subsection (b) of this new section would require eligible 
individuals to submit applications with such information and 
assurances as the VA may require within one year of enactment, 
and would make ineligible those individuals who received 
benefits under the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 (P.L. 
78-346).
    In addition, subsection (b) would require the Secretary to 
recognize the qualifying service of those who served in the 
United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport 
Service and the Naval Transport Service) during the period of 
December 7, 1941, and December 31, 1946. An individual has 
engaged in qualifying service if between December 7, 1941, and 
December 31, 1946, the eligible individual 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 operated by the War Shipping 
Administration or the Office of Defense Transportation (or an 
agent of the Administration or Office); operated in waters 
other than inland waters, the Great Lakes, and other lakes, 
bays, and harbors of the United States; under contract or 
charter to, or property of, the Government of the United 
States; 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 service.
    New subsection (c) would require the Secretary to make a 
monthly payment of $1,000 out of the compensation fund to 
eligible individuals in the order of receipt of applications.
    New subsection (d) would authorize appropriations in the 
amount of $120 million in FY 2010; $108 million in FY 2011; $97 
million in FY 2012; $85 million in FY 2013; and $75 million in 
FY 2014. This new subsection would also authorize that funds 
appropriated under this new section remain available until 
expended.
    New subsection (e) would require the Secretary to submit a 
report to Congress with the President's budget for each fiscal 
year to contain information about the operation of the 
compensation fund, including the number of applicants, the 
number of eligible individuals receiving benefits, the amounts 
paid out of and administration of the compensation fund and an 
estimate of necessary amounts to fully fund the compensation 
fund for that fiscal year and each of the three subsequent 
fiscal years.
    New subsection (f) would require the Secretary to issue 
regulations 180 days after the date of enactment.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is 
printed in italic and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


PART I--GENERAL PROVISIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


            CHAPTER 5--AUTHORITY AND DUTIES OF THE SECRETARY

                    SUBCHAPTER I--GENERAL AUTHORITIES

Sec.
501.  Rules and regulations.
     * * * * * * *

                   SUBCHAPTER II--SPECIFIED FUNCTIONS

     * * * * * * *
533.  Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SUBCHAPTER II--SPECIFIED FUNCTIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 533. Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund

  (a) Compensation Fund.--(1) There is in the general fund of 
the Treasury a fund to be known as the ``Merchant Mariner 
Equity Compensation Fund'' (in this section referred to as the 
``compensation fund'').
  (2) Subject to the availability of appropriations for such 
purpose, amounts in the compensation fund shall be available to 
the Secretary without fiscal year limitation to make payments 
to eligible individuals in accordance with this section.
  (b) Eligible Individuals.--(1) An eligible individual is an 
individual who--
          (A) 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;
          (B) has not received benefits under the Servicemen's 
        Readjustment Act of 1944 (Public Law 78-346); and
          (C) has engaged in qualified service.
  (2) For purposes of paragraph (1), a person has engaged in 
qualified service if, between December 7, 1941, and December 
31, 1946, the person--
          (A) 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; and
                  (iv) serving the Armed Forces; and
          (B) 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.
  (c) Amount of Payments.--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.
  (d) Authorization of Appropriations.--(1) There are 
authorized to be appropriated to the compensation fund amounts 
as follows:
          (A) For fiscal year 2010, $120,000,000.
          (B) For fiscal year 2011, $108,000,000.
          (C) For fiscal year 2012, $97,000,000.
          (D) For fiscal year 2013, $85,000,000.
          (E) For fiscal year 2014, $75,000,000.
  (2) Funds appropriated to carry out this section shall remain 
available until expended.
  (e) Reports.--The Secretary shall include, in documents 
submitted to Congress by the Secretary in support of the 
President's budget for each fiscal year, detailed information 
on the operation of the compensation fund, including the number 
of applicants, the number of eligible individuals receiving 
benefits, the amounts paid out of the compensation fund, the 
administration of the compensation fund, and an estimate of the 
amounts necessary to fully fund the compensation fund for that 
fiscal year and each of the three subsequent fiscal years.
  (f) Regulations.--The Secretary shall prescribe regulations 
to carry out this section.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


               ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF HONORABLE STEVE BUYER

    I continue to have reservations regarding this legislation. 
H.R. 23, as amended, is similar to legislation passed by the 
House in the 110th Congress. I believe that H.R. 23, as 
amended, would set a poor precedent by awarding a $1,000 
monthly payment to World War II Merchant Mariners. The 
authorization described in the bill has no requirement for the 
Merchant Mariner to have a disability or suffer from financial 
hardship. Currently, the only veterans authorized to receive a 
service pension are Medal of Honor recipients. Not even former 
Prisoners of War receive such a pension.
    Whether or not to grant an unprecedented new service 
pension to World War II Merchant Mariners is not a question of 
bravery or contributions to victory over the Axis in 1945. 
Those questions have long been settled to the resounding credit 
of the mariners who braved unspeakable dangers to transport 
cargo that kept the Atlantic Alliance alive and fighting.
    Most Merchant Mariners serving during World War II were 
given veteran status under a system established by Congress in 
the G.I. Bill Improvement Act of 1977, Public Law 95-202. This 
process determined if civilian groups of World War II, like 
most Merchant Mariners, should receive veteran status based on 
their service during the war. This means that most of these 
World War II Merchant Mariners are veterans and qualify for all 
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and services 
including healthcare.
    An objective and carefully researched report on the 
contributions of Merchant Mariners during World War II, and 
post-war benefits for which they were, eligible can be found in 
the Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, 
Veterans Benefits: Merchant Seamen, May 8, 2007 (Order Code: 
RL33992: http://www.congress.gov/erp/rl/pdf/RL33992.pdf), by 
Christine Scott and Douglas Reid Weimer.
    Twenty eight other groups that provided military-related 
service to the U.S. in World War II have received veteran 
status in the same manner as the Merchant Mariners. However, 
this bill ignores their service to the nation; it focuses only 
on the service provided by Merchant Mariners who served during 
that same period. These groups include the Women's Air Force 
Service Pilots, the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, the American 
Volunteer Group know as ``The Flying Tigers'' and many others 
who gained their status decades after their service. They 
served loyally, selflessly, and courageously. Their service 
contributed directly to victory in 1945. Yet this bill does 
nothing for them.
    During the full Committee markup of H.R. 23, I offered an 
amendment that would include these groups, which was defeated 
by a vote of 14 to 15. I have attached a list of the other 
veteran groups that received veteran status under Public Law 
95-202.
    I also find the funding mechanism for this bill to be of 
concern. When this bill was introduced in previous Congresses, 
it was determined that because the benefit was an entitlement, 
it was subject to PAYGO offset requirements. However, the 
current bill uses a compensation fund to turn this entitlement 
into discretionary spending. This side-steps budget rules and 
places an unnecessary burden on the Appropriations Committees.
    There is no current appropriations measure that would fund 
this benefit. The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, which is 
unable to identify the necessary PAYGO offsets to fund this 
benefit, is simply passing the buck to the Appropriations 
Committee. I do not believe this is a fiscally sound way to 
legislate. Further, if insufficient funds were to be 
appropriated, only some Merchant Mariners would receive the 
benefit, while others would not.
    I believe this legislation, though well-meaning, does not 
make the best use of taxpayer dollars, and I fear that it will 
have unintended consequences for future Congresses.

               WORLD WAR II SERVICE BY PARTICULAR GROUPS

    A number of groups who provided military-related service to 
the United States can receive VA benefits. A discharge by the 
Secretary of Defense is needed to qualify. Service in the 
following groups has been certified as active military service 
for benefits purposes:

                RECOGNIZED GROUPS UNDER PUBLIC LAW 95-202
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Date of  recognition        Recognized group
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1                     8 Mar 79................  Women's Air Force
                                                 Service Pilots (WASPs)
                                                 (WWII).
2                     18 Mar 80...............  Women's Army Auxiliary
                                                 Corps (WAAC) (WWII).
3                     22 Jan 81...............  Civilian Employees,
                                                 Pacific Naval Air
                                                 Bases, Who Actively
                                                 Participated in the
                                                 Defense of Wake Island
                                                 during WWII.
4                     17 Jul 81...............  Male Civilian Ferry
                                                 Pilots (WWII).
5                     7 Apr 82................  Wake Island defenders
                                                 from Guam (WWII).
6                     27 Dec 82...............  Civilian Personnel
                                                 Assigned to the Secret
                                                 Intelligence Element of
                                                 the OSS (WWII).
7                     10 May 83...............  Guam Combat Patrol
                                                 (WWII).
8                     7 Feb 84................  Quartermaster Corps
                                                 Keswick Crew on
                                                 Corregidor (WWII).
9                     7 Feb 84................  U.S. Civilian Volunteers
                                                 Who Actively
                                                 Participated in the
                                                 Defense of Bataan
                                                 (WWII).
10                    18 Oct 85...............  U.S. Merchant Seamen Who
                                                 Served on Blockships in
                                                 Support of Operation
                                                 Mulberry in the World
                                                 War II invasion of
                                                 Normandy (WWII).
11                    19 Jan 88...............  American Merchant Marine
                                                 in Oceangoing Service
                                                 during the Period of
                                                 Armed Conflict,
                                                 December 7, 1941 to
                                                 August 15, 1945 (WWII).
12                    2 Aug 88................  Civilian U.S. Navy IFF
                                                 Technicians Who Served
                                                 in the Combat Areas of
                                                 the Pacific during
                                                 World War II (December
                                                 7, 1941 to August 15,
                                                 1945) (WWII).
13                    30 Aug 90...............  U.S. Civilians of the
                                                 American Field Service
                                                 (AFS) Who Served
                                                 Overseas Under U.S.
                                                 Armies and U.S. Army
                                                 Groups in World War II
                                                 During the Period
                                                 December 7, 1941
                                                 through May 8, 1945
                                                 (WWII).
14                    5 Oct 90................  U.S. Civilian Flight
                                                 Crew and Aviation
                                                 Ground Support
                                                 Employees of American
                                                 Airlines Who Served
                                                 Overseas as a result of
                                                 American Airlines'
                                                 Contract with Air
                                                 Transport Command
                                                 during the Period
                                                 December 14, 1941
                                                 through August 14, 1945
                                                 (WWII).
15                    8 Apr 91................  Civilian Crewmen of the
                                                 United States Coast and
                                                 Geodetic Survey vessels
                                                 who performed their
                                                 service in areas of
                                                 immediate military
                                                 hazard while conducting
                                                 cooperative operations
                                                 with and for the United
                                                 States Armed Forces
                                                 within a time frame of
                                                 December 7, 1941 to
                                                 August 15, 1945 (WWII)
                                                 (Qualifying vessels
                                                 are: the Derickson,
                                                 Explorer, Gilber,
                                                 Hilgard, E. Lester
                                                 Jones, Lydonia Patton,
                                                 Surveyor, Wainwright,
                                                 Westdahl,
                                                 Oceanographer,
                                                 Hydrographer and
                                                 Pathfinder).
16                    3 May 91................  Honorably Discharged
                                                 Members of the American
                                                 Volunteer Group (Flying
                                                 Tigers) Who Served
                                                 During the Period
                                                 December 7, 1941 to
                                                 July 18, 1942 (WWII).
17                    12 May 92...............  U.S. Civilian Flight
                                                 Crew and Aviation
                                                 Ground Support
                                                 Employees of United Air
                                                 Lines (UAL), Who Served
                                                 Overseas as a Result of
                                                 UAL's Contract With the
                                                 Air Transport Command
                                                 During the Period
                                                 December 14, 1941
                                                 through August 14, 1945
                                                 (WWII).
18                    12 May 92...............  U.S. Civilian Flight
                                                 Crew and Aviation
                                                 Ground Support
                                                 Employees of
                                                 Transcontinental and
                                                 Western Air (TWA),
                                                 Inc., Who Served
                                                 Overseas as a Result of
                                                 TWA's Contract with the
                                                 Air Transport Command
                                                 during the Period
                                                 December 14, 1941
                                                 through August 14, 1945
                                                 (WWII).
19                    29 Jun 92...............  U.S. Civilian Flight
                                                 Crew and Aviation
                                                 Ground Support
                                                 Employees of
                                                 Consolidated Vultee
                                                 Aircraft Corporation
                                                 (Convair Division), Who
                                                 Served Overseas as a
                                                 Result of a Contract
                                                 with the Air Transport
                                                 Command during the
                                                 Period (WWII) U.S.
                                                 Civilian Flight Crew
                                                 and Aviation Ground
                                                 Support during the
                                                 Period December 7, 1941
                                                 through August 14, 1945
                                                 (WWII).
20                    17 Jul 92...............  U.S. Civilian Flight
                                                 Crew and Aviation
                                                 Ground Support
                                                 Employees of Pan
                                                 American World Airways
                                                 and its subsidiaries
                                                 and affiliates, Who
                                                 Served Overseas as a
                                                 Result of Pan
                                                 American's Contract
                                                 with the Air Transport
                                                 Command and Naval Air
                                                 Transport Service
                                                 during the Period
                                                 December 14, 1941
                                                 through August 14, 1945
                                                 (WWII).
21                    29 Jun 92...............  Honorably Discharged
                                                 Members of the American
                                                 Volunteer Guard,
                                                 Eritrea Service Command
                                                 during the Period June
                                                 21, 1942 to March 31,
                                                 1943 (WWII).
22                    13 Dec 93...............  U.S. Civilian Flight
                                                 Crew and Aviation
                                                 Ground Support
                                                 Employees of Northwest
                                                 Airlines, Who Served
                                                 Overseas as a Result of
                                                 Northwest Airline's
                                                 Contract with the Air
                                                 Transport Command
                                                 during the Period
                                                 December 14, 1941
                                                 through August 14, 1945
                                                 (WWII).
23                    13 Dec 93...............  U.S. Civilian Female
                                                 Employees of the U.S.
                                                 Army Nurse Corps While
                                                 Serving in the Defense
                                                 of Bataan and
                                                 Corregidor During the
                                                 Period January 2, 1942
                                                 to June 12, 1945
                                                 (WWII).
24                    2 Jun 97................  U.S. Civilian Flight
                                                 Crew and Aviation
                                                 Ground Support
                                                 Employees of Northeast
                                                 Airlines Atlantic
                                                 Division, who served
                                                 overseas in the result
                                                 Northeast Airlines'
                                                 contract with the Air
                                                 Transport Command
                                                 during the Period
                                                 December 7, 1941, to
                                                 August 14, 1945 (WWII).
25                    2 Jun 97................  U.S. Civilian Flight
                                                 Crew and Aviation
                                                 Ground Support
                                                 Employees of Braniff
                                                 Airways, who served
                                                 overseas in the North
                                                 Atlantic or under the
                                                 jurisdiction of the
                                                 North Atlantic Wing as
                                                 a result of a contract
                                                 with Air Transport
                                                 Command during the
                                                 period February 26,
                                                 1942, to August 14,
                                                 1945 (WWII).
26                    30 Sep 99...............  Approximately 50
                                                 Chamorro and Carolinian
                                                 policemen, who received
                                                 military training and
                                                 under the command of
                                                 the 6th Provisional
                                                 Military Police
                                                 Battalion, to accompany
                                                 U.S. Marines in combat
                                                 patrol activity from
                                                 August 19, 1945, to
                                                 September 2, 1945.
27                    27 Aug 99...............  Operational Analysis
                                                 Group of the Office of
                                                 Scientific Research and
                                                 Development, who served
                                                 overseas from December
                                                 7, 1941, through August
                                                 15, 1945.
28                    9 Aug 00................  Service as a member of
                                                 the Alaska Territorial
                                                 Guard during World War
                                                 II of any individual
                                                 who was honorably
                                                 discharged under
                                                 section 8147 of the
                                                 Department of Defense
                                                 Appropriations Act of
                                                 2001 (P.L. 106-259) .
------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                   Steve Buyer.