The Bonus and Veterans' Pensions

January 10, 1936

Report Outline
Revival of Bonus Controversy in Present Congress
Benefits and Loans Under the Present Bonus Law
Plans for Immediate Payment of the Bonus
Bonus Payment and the Prospect for Service Pensions
Special Focus

Revival of Bonus Controversy in Present Congress

The Bonus Issue, temporarily sidetracked last May when the Senate sustained President Roosevelt's veto of a bill for immediate cash payment of the 1945 value of adjusted-service certificates held by veterans of the World War, was again brought actively to the fore when Congress reconvened last week. A new measure, jointly supported by the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Disabled American Veterans, was introduced on January 3 in the House of Representatives and favorably reported by the Ways and Means Committee on January 7. Debate on the bill opened on January 9, and it was passed by a large majority on the following day.

By acting with such promptitude the House avoided the necessity of voting January 13, in pursuance of a discharge petition completed shortly before the close of the last session, on a motion to bring out of the Ways and Means Committee the Patman bill for payment of the bonus in new currency, which, in the form of an amendment to another bill, was vetoed by the President on May 22, 1935. The Patman bill had been supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars but was opposed by the American Legion. After the veterans' organizations got together on the new “united front” bill, Rep. Patman (D., Texas) counseled his followers to support that measure, which specifies no particular method of payment, and to reserve their advocacy of payment by the inflationary route until the appropriation itself comes up for consideration.

Prospect of Enactment of Bonus Bill Over a Veto

Senator Harrison (D., Miss.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sponsored at the last session a plan for payment of the bonus in negotiable bonds which it was suggested the President might approve. Another compromise bill, introduced on August 6, 1935, by Senator Byrnes (D., S. C), close friend of the President, and Senator Steiwer (R., Ore.), proposed to change the maturity date of adjusted-service certificates from 1945 to 1938 and allow an immediate cash surrender value equivalent to around 97 per cent of the face value. This plan was prominently mentioned during the last week, but lack of assurances that it would receive White House approval, coupled with the evident strength behind the House bill, led to a belief that the latter measure might be accepted in revised form by the Senate. Passage of some bonus bill by that body is assured. Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau was quoted as saying on November 27 that the administration was still opposed to immediate cash payment. Considering that the veterans are now exerting united pressure, that a national election is in the offing, and that the inflationary Patman bill has been discarded, there is little doubt that a bonus measure can be passed over a veto.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Pensions and Retirement
Feb. 17, 2006  Pension Crisis
May 31, 2002  Retirement Security
Nov. 05, 1993  Paying for Retirement
Jul. 21, 1989  Future of Employee Benefits
Mar. 28, 1986  Pension Problems
Mar. 06, 1981  Retirement Income in Jeopardy
Nov. 11, 1977  Mandatory Retirement
May 21, 1976  Pension Problems
Sep. 20, 1967  Pension Plan Safeguards
Feb. 24, 1961  Retirement Age
May 04, 1949  Service Pensions for War Veterans
Jan. 10, 1936  The Bonus and Veterans' Pensions
Retirement, Pensions, and Social Security
Veterans' Services