WASHINGTON — House and Senate negotiators on Thursday endorsed legislation guaranteeing $20,000 compensation payments to the estimated 60,000 living Japanese-Americans who were sent to internment camps in World War II.
The compromise legislation, which could pay the former internees as much as $1.2 billion over three years, must be approved by both houses of Congress before being sent to the White House for consideration by President Bush.
Atty. Gen. Dick Thornburgh has opposed the payments because of their cost. Bush has not made his position known.
The reparations payments are part of an overall $17.3-billion measure providing appropriations for the Commerce, State and Justice departments for fiscal 1990, which began Oct. 1.
House negotiators accepted the Senate-passed version of the bill guaranteeing that all surviving internees will receive the payments.
The Senate voted 74 to 22 on Sept. 29 to waive budget restrictions and guarantee that the reparations payments are made.
The Senate version of the bill that the conferees approved bars any payments until the beginning of fiscal 1991.
But it then makes up to $500 million a year available over three years until all of the $20,000 reparations payments are made.
The payments would be free of federal tax.
The House version of the bill would have appropriated $50 million to be made available immediately but included no guarantees of any payments beyond that.
Congress authorized the payments last year, but because of the budget crunch no money was paid.