Congressional Record: January 28, 2004 (Senate)
Page S308-S309

                   UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST--S. 1691

  Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I want to speak today about S. 1691, the 
Wartime Treatment Study Act. During World War II, the United States 
fought a courageous battle against the spread of Nazism and fascism. 
Nazi Germany was engaged in the horrific persecution and genocide of 
Jews. By the end of the war, 6 million Jews had perished at the hands 
of Nazi Germany.
  The Allied victory in the Second World War was an American triumph, a 
triumph for freedom, justice, and human rights. The courage displayed 
by so many Americans, of all ethnic origins, should be a source of 
great pride for all Americans. But we should not let that justifiable 
pride in our Nation's triumph blind us to the treatment of some 
Americans by their own government.
  Sadly, as so many brave Americans fought against enemies in Europe 
and the Pacific, the U.S. Government was in some cases curtailing the 
freedom of some of its own people here, at home. While, it is, of 
course, the right of every Nation to protect itself during wartime, the 
U.S. Government can and should respect the basic freedoms that so many 
Americans have given their lives to defend. Of course, war tests our 
principles and our values. And as our Nation's recent experience has 
shown, it is during times of war and conflict, when our fears are high 
and our principles are tested most, that we must be even more vigilant 
to guard against violations of the Constitution.
  Many Americans are aware of the fact that, during World War II, under 
the authority of Executive Order 9066, our Government forced more than 
100,000 ethnic Japanese from their homes into internment camps. 
Japanese Americans were forced to leave their homes, their livelihoods, 
and their communities. They were held behind barbed wire and military 
guard by their own government.
  Through the work of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and 
Internment of Civilians created by Congress in 1980, this unfortunate 
episode in our history finally received the official acknowledgement 
and condemnation it deserved. Under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, 
people of Japanese ancestry who were subjected to relocation or 
internment later received an apology and reparations on behalf of the 
people of the United States.
  While I commend Congress and our Nation for finally recognizing and 
apologizing for the mistreatment of Japanese Americans during World War 
II, our work in this area is not done. We should also acknowledge the 
mistreatment experienced by many German Americans, Italian Americans, 
and European Latin Americans, as well as Jewish refugees.
  Most Americans are probably unaware that during World War II, the 
U.S. Government designated more than 600,000 Italian-born and 300,000 
German-born U.S. resident aliens and their families as ``enemy 
  Approximately 11,000 ethnic Germans, 3,200 ethnic Italians, and 
scores of Bulgarians, Hungarians, Romanians or other European Americans 
living in America were taken from their homes and placed in internment 
camps. Some even remained interned for up to 3 years after the war 
ended. Unknown numbers of German Americans, Italian Americans, and 
other Europeans Americans had their property confiscated or their 
travel restricted, or lived under curfews.
  S. 1691 would not grant reparations to victims. It would simply 
create a commission to review the facts and circumstances of the U.S. 
Government's treatment of German Americans, Italian Americans and other 
European Americans during World War II.
  A second commission created by this bill would review the treatment 
by the U.S. Government of Jewish refugees who were fleeing Nazi 
persecution and genocide. German and Austrian Jews applied for visas, 
but the United States severely limited their entry due to strict 
immigration policies, policies that many believe were motivated by fear 
that our enemies would send spies under the guise of refugees and by 
the unfortunate anti-foreigner and anti-Semitic attitudes that were, 
sadly, all too common at that time.
  It is time for the country to review the facts and determine how our 
restrictive immigration policies failed to provide adequate safe harbor 
to Jewish refugees fleeing the persecution of Nazi Germany. The United 
States turned away thousands of refugees, delivering many to their 
deaths at the hands of the Nazi regime.
  As I mentioned earlier, there has been a measure of justice for 
Japanese Americans who were denied their liberty and property. It is 
now time for the U.S. Government to complete an accounting of this 
period in our Nation's history.
  Let me repeat that the bill I have introduced, along with Senator 
Grassley, does not call for reparations. All it does is ensure that the 
public has a full accounting of what happened. I believe that is the 
right and, yes, the patriotic thing to do. It is patriotic to ensure 
that the Government owns up to its mistakes. We should be very proud of 
our victory over Nazism, as I certainly am. But we should not let that 
pride cause us to overlook what happened to some Americans and refugees 
during World War II. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the 
Wartime Treatment Study Act.
  The Judiciary Committee has reported this bill favorably. It has been 
cleared by my Democratic colleagues. Unfortunately, someone on the 
other side of the aisle has placed a hold on the bill. This anonymous 
person or persons are unwilling to identify themselves or to explain 
the reasons for the hold. I think some Republican colleagues have been 
trying to figure out for me what the problems is. Frankly, I find it 
hard to imagine why someone would object to a fairly straight-forward, 
non-controversial bill such as this. So, Mr. President, I will try 
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the 
immediate consideration of Calendar No. 309, S. 1691, a bill to 
establish commission, to review the facts and circumstances surrounding 
injustices suffered by European Americans, European Latin Americans, 
and Jewish Refugees during World War II, that the bill be read the 
third time, passed, and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the 
table; that the title amendment be agreed, with the above occurring 
without intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, reserving the right to 
object, I have been informed that our leadership is working on a method 
for this proposal to move forward. I admire what the Senator is doing 
on a personal basis. With that understanding, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I know the Senator from South Carolina 
was a supporter of this legislation in committee, and he is doing what 
he must do in representing that side of the aisle.
  I am disappointed that there is an objection to moving this bill. The 
Judiciary Committee has now reported this bill favorably to the floor 
on two occasions--last Congress and again this Congress. I would like 
to know what their concerns are. So far, we have never heard a 
substantive objection. There is a secret hold being used here. That is 
unfortunate. This bill is long overdue. It is not controversial. In 
fact, I specifically was promised by the chairman of the Judiciary 
Committee late in the 106th Congress, when I was hoping the issue of 
German Americans would be linked to a bill going through Congress on 
Italian Americans. I was assured this was not controversial and

[[Page S309]]

this would be taken care of. Nonetheless, this has occurred. There is 
no reason the Senate should not take up and consider this bill without 
further delay.
  Again, had the representative of the majority stayed, I would have 
asked whether there was a time when they would expect to be ready for 
action. I will find other ways to ask the other side to work with me to 
pass the bill. I took the comments of the Senator from South Carolina 
in good faith that he has spoken to the leadership and that they are 
willing to work with us. I hope we can sit down and work this out as 
soon as possible to ensure that the U.S. Government accounts for what 
happened so many years ago.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. DOLE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from North Carolina.