(PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.)
Calendar No. 307
108th Congress Report
1st Session 108-164
NATIONAL CEMETERY EXPANSION ACT OF 2003
October 14, 2003.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Specter, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, submitted the
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 1516]
The Committee on Veterans' Affairs (hereinafter,
``Committee''), to which was referred the bill (H.R. 1516) to
provide for the establishment by the Secretary of Veterans
Affairs of five additional cemeteries in the National Cemetery
Administration, having considered the same, reports favorably
thereon with an amendment, and an amendment to the title, and
recommends that the bill, as amended, do pass.
On March 31, 2003, Representative Jim Gerlach introduced
H.R. 1516, a bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs
to establish a national cemetery in southeastern Pennsylvania.
H.R. 1516 was amended and ordered reported from the House
Committee on Veterans' Affairs on July 10, 2003. It
subsequently was passed by the House of Representatives on July
21, 2003, by a vote of 408-0. On July 22, 2003, H.R. 1516 was
received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on
On June 18, 2003, Committee Ranking Member Graham
introduced S. 1282, a bill to require the Secretary of Veterans
Affairs to establish national cemeteries for geographically
underserved populations of veterans, and for other purposes.
Senators Bill Nelson and Jeff Sessions were original cosponsors
of S. 1282. The bill was referred to the Committee on Veteran's
On July 10, 2003, the Committee held a hearing to receive
testimony on, among other things, S. 1282. Testimony was heard
from: The Honorable Daniel L. Cooper, Under Secretary for
Benefits, Department of Veterans Affairs (hereinafter, ``VA'');
Mr. Craig W. Duehring, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Reserve Affairs, Department of Defense; Mr. Phillip
R. Wilkerson, Deputy Manager of Operations and Training,
Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division, The American
Legion; Mr. Dennis Cullinan, Director, National Legislative
Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States; Mr.
Rick Surratt, Deputy National Legislative Director, Disabled
American Veterans; Mr. Carl Blake, Associate Legislative
Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America; and Mr. Richard Jones,
National Legislative Director, AMVETS.
After carefully reviewing the testimony from the foregoing
hearing, the Committee met in open session on September 30,
2003, and voted by unanimous voice vote to report favorably
H.R. 1516, as amended, to include an original provision.
Present were Senators Specter, Campbell, Lindsey Graham,
Ensign, Rockefeller, Akaka, Jeffords, and Miller.
SUMMARY OF THE COMMITTEE BILL AS REPORTED
1. Section 2(a) of H.R. 1516 as Reported (hereinafter,
``Committee bill'') would direct the Secretary of Veterans
Affairs to establish, within four years of enactment, six
national cemeteries. The cemeteries to be established are to be
located in Southeastern Pennsylvania; the Birmingham, Alabama,
area; the Jacksonville, Florida, area; the Bakersfield,
California, area; the Greenville/Columbia, South Carolina area;
and the Sarasota County, Florida, area.
2. Section 2(b) of the Committee Bill would make available
advanced planning funds appropriated after fiscal year 2003 for
the establishment of the six cemeteries.
3. Section 2(c) of the Committee Bill would require the
Secretary to solicit the advice and views of representatives of
State and local veterans service organizations, and other
appropriate individuals, in determining the specific sites
where the six cemeteries will be located.
4. Section 2(d) of the Committee Bill would require the
Secretary, within 120 days after enactment, to submit a report
to Congress setting forth the schedule for the establishment of
each cemetery, and the amount of advance planning funding
obligated for each cemetery.
5. Section 2(e) of the Committee Bill would require the
Secretary to submit an annual status report to Congress on the
establishment of each cemetery and until each cemetery has been
6. Section 2(f) of the Committee Bill would specify which
counties comprise the ``Southeastern Pennsylvania'' area.
Chapter 24 of title 38, United States Code, establishes
within VA a National Cemetery Administration (hereinafter,
``NCA'') which is responsible for the interment of deceased
service members and veterans, as well as their spouses and
dependent children. Section2404 of title 38 authorizes the
Secretary to make all rules and regulations necessary to carry out the
provisions of chapter 24, title 38, including the development of
In response to section 613 of the Veterans Millennium
Health Care and Benefits Act, Public Law 106-117, VA contracted
for an independent study to assess the number of additional
national cemeteries required to meet the future burial needs of
veterans to ensure that 90 percent of veterans resided within
75 miles of an open state or national cemetery. The report
identified 31 locations as areas where cemeteries would need to
be established to achieve the 90 percent goal.
Recognizing that it would not be practicable to establish
national cemeteries in all 31 locations, especially in areas
where state cemeteries would more appropriately meet the needs
of smaller veteran's populations, VA established a threshold of
170,000 veterans which, if residing more than 75 miles from an
open state or national cemetery, would justify the VA's
establishment or expansion of national cemeteries. Based on
revised population estimates transmitted to the Committee on
June 4, 2003, and applying the threshold criteria it
established, VA identified 11 locations that required either a
new national cemetery or an expansion of an existing national
cemetery. One of those locations, Chesapeake, Virginia, will be
served by an already planned state cemetery funded through VA's
State Cemetery Grants Program. Four of those locations cab be
served by expanding existing national cemeteries. Six locations
will require the construction of new national cemeteries. They
are: Bakersfield, California; Birmingham, Alabama; Greenville/
Columbia, south Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania; and Sarasota County, Florida. The Committee bill
directs VA to establish national cemeteries at those six
In compliance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the
Standing rules of the Senate, the Committee, based on
information supplied by the Congressional Budget Office
(hereinafter, ``CBO'') estimates that enactment of the
Committee bill would cost $11 million in 2004 and $93 million
over the 2004-2008 period, assuming appropriation of the
necessary amounts, and would not affect direct spending or
receipts. Enactment of the committee bill would not affect the
budget of state, local, or tribal governments.
The cost estimate provided by CBO, setting forth a detailed
breakdown of costs, follows:
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, October 6, 2003.
Hon. Arlen Specter,
Chairman, Committee on Veteran's Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
has prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1516, the
National Cemetery Expansion Act of 2003.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Dwayne M.
H.R. 1516--National Cemetery Expansion Act of 2003
H.R. 1516 would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs
(VA) to establish new national cemeteries for deceased veterans
in southeastern Pennsylvania, the Birmingham, Alabama area, the
Jacksonville, Florida area, the Bakersfield, California area,
the Greenville/Columbia, South Carolina area, and the Sarasota
County, Florida area. CBO estimates that implementing the act
would cost $11 million in 2004 and $93 million over the 2004-
2008 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.
The act would not affect direct spending or receipts.
H.R. 1516 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)
and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal
Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated
budgetary impact of H.R. 1516 is shown in the following table.
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 700
(veterans benefits and services).
By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION
Estimated Authorization Level...................................... 42 0 21 0 90
Estimated Outlays.................................................. 11 31 10 11 30
Basis of estimate: Based on information from VA about the
costs of cemeteries currently under construction, CBO estimates
that the planning and construction of these six new national
cemeteries would require the appropriation of $153 million over
the 2004-2008 period. According to VA, it takes about five
years, on average, to establish a new national cemetery. In
2004, costs of about $42 million would stem from environmental
impact studies and the acquisition of the needed land. Absent
information from VA, CBO assumes that all of the land for these
cemeteries would have to be purchased (land donations would
decrease the cost of acquisition). The subsequent planning,
design, and preparation of specifications for the six
cemeteries would take about two years and would cost about $21
million. CBO estimates that appropriations of about $90 million
would be necessary in 2008 for cemetery construction, and that
the resulting outlays would occur over a three-year period.
Thus, CBO estimates that implementing the act would cost $11
million in 2004 and $93 million over the 2004-2008 period,
assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.
Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: H.R. 1516
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as
defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or
Previous CBO estimate: On July 1, 2003, CBO transmitted a
cost estimate for H.R. 1516 as ordered reported by the House
Committee on Veterans' Affairs on June 26, 2003. The Senate
version of H.R. 1516 would authorize the establishment of one
additional national cemetery; therefore, the estimated costs of
this version of the act are higher.
Estimated prepared by: Federal Costs: Dwayne M. Wright;
Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Melissa
Merrell; and Impact on the Private Sector: Allison Percy.
Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant
Director for Budget Analysis.
REGULATORY IMPACT STATEMENT
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee on Veterans'
Affairs has made an evaluation of the regulatory impact that
would be incurred in carrying out the Committee bill. The
Committee finds that the Committee bill would not entail any
regulation of individuals or businesses or result in any impact
on the personal privacy of any individuals and that the
paperwork resulting from enactment would be minimal.
TABULATION OF VOTES CAST IN COMMITTEE
In compliance with paragraph 7 of rule XXVI of the Standing
Rules of the Senate, the following is a tabulation of votes
cast in person or by proxy by members of the Committee on
Veterans' Affairs at its September 30, 2003, meeting. On that
date, the Committee, by unanimous voice vote, ordered H.R.
1516, a bill to provide for the establishment by the Secretary
of Veterans Affairs of five additional cemeteries in the
National Cemetery System, as amended, reported favorably to the
On July 10, 2003, VA Under Secretary for Benefits, Daniel
L. Cooper, appeared before the Committee on Veterans' Affairs
and submitted testimony on, among other things, S. 1282, a bill
similar to that reported by the Committee. Excerpts from these
statements are reprinted below:
Statement of Daniel L. Cooper, Under Secretary for Benefits, Department
of Veterans Affairs
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for
the opportunity to testify today on several bills of great
interest to veterans
* * * * * * *
S. 1282 would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to
establish national cemeteries for geographically underserved
populations of veterans. It would direct the Secretary to
identify the ten burial service areas in the United States, as
determined by the Secretary, most in need of a new national
cemetery to ensure that 90 percent of the veterans who reside
in each service area live within 75 miles of a national
cemetery. The bill would defined ``burial service area'' as
having a radius of approximately 75 miles, containing a minimum
population of approximately 170,000 veterans, and not being
served by a national or state veterans cemetery. In addition,
the bill would direct the Secretary to submit to Congress a
report setting forth each burial service area identified by the
Secretary as needing a cemetery and a schedule and cost
estimate for the establishment of each new national cemetery.
The first report would be due within 120 days after the date of
enactment, and annual status reports would be required until
the ten cemeteries were completed.
Not all of America's veterans and their families have easy
and convenient access to a national cemetery. In the Veterans
Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act, Pub. L. No. 106-117
(1999), Congress directed VA to identify areas of the country
with the greatest concentrations of veterans who do not have
reasonable access to a burial option in a national or state
veterans cemetery. Substantial documentation demonstrates that
80 percent of burials in national cemeteries involve
individuals who resided within 75 miles of the cemetery. VA has
determined that a veteran population threshold of 170,000
within a 75-mile service radius is an appropriate threshold for
the establishment of a new national cemetery.
In response to the Veterans Millennium Health Care and
Benefits Act, on May 15, 2002, VA transmitted to Congress a
report entitled, Study on Improvements to Veterans Cemeteries--
Volume 1: Future Burial Needs. An independent contractor,
Logistics Management Institute (LMI), prepared the report. It
assesses the number of additional cemeteries needed to ensure
that 90 percent of veterans live within 75 miles of a national
or state veterans cemetery between 2005 and 2020. The report
identified 31 locations recommended by LMI as areas of greatest
need. Six sites had over 170,000 veterans who currently were
not being served by a burial option by a state or national
cemetery within 75 miles of their residences. On June 4, 2003,
VA transmitted revised veteran population estimates, based on
2000 United States Census data. From the two listings, eleven
locations were identified as meeting VA's population threshold.
VA plans to meet the identified unmet burial needs in each
location by either establishing a new national cemetery or
expanding an existing national cemetery.
Several steps are involved in establishing a new national
cemetery. Depending on the size of the project, the cost of
these steps can range from $100,000 to $250,000 for
environmental compliance requirements; $3 million to $6 million
for land acquisition, if required; $1 million to $2 million for
master planning and design; and $15 million to $25 million for
construction. Even with an aggressive schedule, it generally
takes 4\1/2\ to 5 years to open a cemetery to initial burials.
A new national cemetery's average annual operating costs range
between $1 million and $2 million, without consideration of
headstones and grave liners, which are purchased through
Because the Future Burial Needs report released last year
and the updated demographic data transmitted to Congress
earlier this year satisfy the intent behind S. 1282, enactment
of this bill is unnecessary. However, VA is committed to begin
addressing those identified locations with unment burial needs
within the annual budgetary process.
* * * * * * *
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY H.R. 1516 AS REPORTED
Since the Committee bill would not repeal or amend any
provisions of current law, this report does not contain the
material described in clauses (a) and (b) of paragraph 12 of
rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate.