Friday, September 28, 2007

Success! Legislations Endorsed by 80-20 Have Been Passed

By David Yang, Chair of the Committee on Legislation

Dear 80-20 Members and Supporters,

Great news from Capitol Hill! It’s my great pleasure and privilege to report to you that, thanks to the support of concerned citizens like yourself, two of the three pieces of legislation that 80-20 endorsed in May have been passed with flying colors, and a third has also been moved out of Committee and is well on its way to passage.

On July 30th, the House passed the Resolution introduced by Rep. Mike Honda of San Jose calling upon the Japanese government to formally acknowledge and apologize for the use of `comfort women' during WWII. In the end the Resolution was cosponsored by 167 members of the House – nearly 40% of its membership. The overwhelming support received by this Resolution is a testament to the decency and conscience of the American people, and former Prime Minister Abe of Japan was forced to backtrack from earlier comments denying state responsibility in the use of “comfort women”. Again, we applaud Rep. Honda’s moral courage, and congratulate the U.S. Congress for taking up the cause of the powerless.

A second piece of good news came on Sept. 7th, when the U.S. Senate along with the House passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. This landmark financial aid bill incorporates Rep. David Wu's legislation to expand educational opportunities for low-income Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) students. Rep. Wu is a member of the Education and Labor Committee and was appointed to the House-Senate conference committee on this bill. The bill will provide grants to eligible colleges and universities to improve services for low-income AAPI students, such as the purchase of educational materials and community outreach programs for high school students. Previously, institutions that serve large numbers of low-income AAPI students have not had access to such grants, and AAPI students from low income households did not receive the assistance long available to other minority groups. The passage of this bill is an important first step in the right direction. The bill has been presented to the President on Sept. 19th and is expected to be signed into law.

Finally, I am also pleased to report that the Filipino Veterans Equity Act, sponsored by Rep. Bob Filner of California, was moved out of the House Veterans Affairs Committee on July 17th and is expected to come up for a House vote in the near future. With 98 cosponsors in the House, the bill is expected to pass the House without difficulty. A similar bill has also been sponsored by Sen. Inouye in the Senate. The Bill grants Filipino veterans who fought under U.S. command during WWII the same veterans’ benefits enjoyed by other American veterans. It will restore to them the same health and pension benefits enjoyed by other American veterans, as promised them by President Roosevelt 66 years ago.

In unity there is power. While we cannot claim sole credit for the progress made on these issues, we did our part by shining a spotlight on them and keeping them on the public agenda. While our elected representatives deserve the lion’s share of the credit, they did not and could not do it alone. In this great democracy the people control their own future. Your voice can and *has* made a difference!

On behalf of the entire 80-20 Board of Directors, we thank you again for your community spirit and enthusiastic support.

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