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Letter to the Senate Majority Leader on the World War Veterans' Act, 1924, Amendments

July 03, 1930

My dear Mr. Senator:

You request my views on the effect of the Senate Amendments to the new House Veterans Bill.

I must say at once that these amendments again reestablish injustices and discriminations between veterans, impose unwarranted burdens on the taxpayer and perpetuate entirely wrong principles in such legislation. There are many points of criticism in this direction.

For instance, under these amendments the average allowance to veterans whose disabilities were incurred in civil life subsequent to the war will work out very close to the same average payment as that given to veterans who actually suffered from battle and in the trenches. This is an injustice both to the men who suffered from the war and to the public. The amendments reverse the House action limiting allowances to men who are exempt from income tax. From this removal of the indication of necessity, a wealthy veteran, if he becomes permanently disabled, either partially or wholly, as the result of an automobile accident next week, may draw a life allowance from the United States Treasury. The Senate Amendments seriously affect the men who were enrolled after the armistice and who never heard a shot fired; they seriously modify the clauses in respect to venereal diseases and impose a burden upon the Treasury therefor, which must be condemned from the point of view of family life.

General Hines estimates the cost the first year, of this bill as passed by the Senate, will be $70,000,000, rising to about $175,000,000 in five years and thereafter. This represents an increase on the House Bill by about 250%. These are sums wholly uncalled for by the need of the situation and probably imply an increase in taxes.

There are many other objections to the Senate Amendments such as renewal of certain presumptions, but perhaps this will indicate my views. The Bill as passed by the House, before amended by the Senate, was in itself a generous national action, based upon sound principles. Except for some minor technical points the House Bill met the entire approval of the representatives of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. They did not ask for any more. They have shown a sense of responsibility not only to the country but to the veterans, by unhesitatingly expressing their opposition to the major Senate amendments.

Yours faithfully,


[The Honorable James E. Watson, United States Senate]

Note: On June 26, 1930, the President vetoed the World War veterans' pension bill (H.R. 10381). On the same day, the House of Representatives passed a substitute bill (H.R. 13174), eliminating all the Senate amendments to which the President objected. On July 1, the Senate amended the new legislation, and on the following day the bill went to conference. The conference report eliminated the Senate amendments, and on July 3, the bill passed both Houses of Congress and was signed by the President. The World War Veterans' Act, 1924, Amendments (H.R. 13174) is Public, No. 522 (46 Stat. 991).
Frank T. Hines was Director of the United States Veterans' Bureau.

Herbert Hoover, Letter to the Senate Majority Leader on the World War Veterans' Act, 1924, Amendments Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/210978

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