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110th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     110-641

======================================================================



 
       VETERANS HANDBOOK OF DESIGNS FOR SPECIALLY ADAPTED HOUSING

                                _______
                                

  May 15, 2008.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Filner, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 5664]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 5664) to amend title 38, United States Code, to 
direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to update at least 
once every six years the plans and specifications for specially 
adapted housing furnished to veterans by the Secretary, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon with an amendment 
and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Amendment........................................................     2
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Discussion........................................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
Committee Votes..................................................     4
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     4
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     4
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures     4
Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits.............................     4
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................     4
Congressional Budget Office Estimate.............................     4
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     5
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     5
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     5
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     6
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     6
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............     6

                               Amendment

    The amendment is as follows:
    Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. REQUIREMENT FOR REGULAR UPDATES TO HANDBOOK FOR DESIGN 
                    FURNISHED TO VETERANS ELIGIBLE FOR SPECIALLY 
                    ADAPTED HOUSING ASSISTANCE BY SECRETARY OF VETERANS 
                    AFFAIRS.

    Section 2103 of title 38, United States Code, is amended--
            (1) by striking ``The Secretary'' and inserting ``(a) Plans 
        and Specifications.--The Secretary''; and
            (2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
    ``(b) Handbook for Design.--The Secretary shall make available to 
veterans eligible for assistance under this chapter, without cost to 
the veterans, a handbook containing appropriate designs for specially 
adapted housing. The Secretary shall update such handbook at least 
every six years to take into account any new or unique disabilities, 
including vision impairments, impairments specific to the of upper 
limbs, and burn injuries.''.

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 5664, introduced by Representative Ciro D. Rodriguez 
of Texas on March 31, 2008, would require the Secretary of the 
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to make available, without 
cost, to veterans eligible for specially adapted housing 
assistance a handbook containing appropriate designs for 
specially adapted housing. This legislation would also require 
the Secretary to update such handbook at least once every six 
years to take into account any new or unique disabilities, 
including vision impairments specific to the upper limbs, burn 
injuries, and incorporate new technologies and advancements.

                       Background and Discussion

    Section 2103 of title 38, United States Code, authorizes 
the VA to provide, without cost, ``model plans and 
specifications of suitable housing units'' to disabled veterans 
eligible for specially adapted housing under chapter 21 of such 
title. Pursuant to this authority, the VA published, in April 
1978, Pamphlet 26-13, ``Handbook for Design: Specially Adapted 
Housing.'' This pamphlet has not been updated since its 
publication.
    At a hearing of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity on 
June 7, 2007, Mr. John S. Gonsalves, President and Founder of 
Homes for Our Troops, stated that ``servicemen and women with 
injuries that would have killed them in previous wars are now 
living to see another day, and are in need of truly special 
home adaptations.'' The primary guidance that VA provides 
contractors who draw up plans and specifications to modify 
houses under this grant program is VA Pamphlet 26-13.
    Although much of the guidance found in Pamphlet 26-13 is 
still applicable today, the Committee believes that an updated 
pamphlet is in order to more adequately respond to the unique 
needs of today's disabled veterans. Since responding to the 
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, our country has 
experienced an increasing number of servicemembers surviving 
injuries due to medical improvements that would otherwise have 
been fatal. These veterans are returning home with severely 
limited physical and sometimes cognitive abilities, making it 
difficult for them to make an easy physical transition back to 
the home they left behind or need. In comparison to the VA 
pamphlet, the current Army Corps of Engineers housing design 
guide is dated 1994, and that of the Air Force, dated 2004.
    The Committee further believes that VA should not wait 
another 30 years to update its specially adapted housing 
pamphlet. H.R. 5664 requires the VA to update this pamphlet at 
least once every six years to ensure the pamphlet contains up-
to-date direction and guidance, including new and unique 
disabilities, to those involved in designing, constructing, and 
modifying residences.

                                Hearings

    On April 16, 2008, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity 
held a legislative hearing on a number of bills, including H.R. 
5664. The following witnesses testified: The Honorable Bob 
Filner of California; The Honorable Steve Buyer of Indiana; The 
Honorable Ciro D. Rodriguez of Texas; The Honorable Cliff 
Stearns of Florida; The Honorable John A. Yarmuth of Kentucky; 
The Honorable Robin Hayes of North Carolina; The Honorable 
Artur Davis of Alabama; The Honorable Patrick J. Murphy of 
Pennsylvania; Mr. Ronald F. Chamrin, Assistant Director, 
Economic Commission, The American Legion; Mr. Justin Brown, 
Legislative Associate, National Legislative Service, Veterans 
of Foreign Wars; Mr. Richard Daley, Associate Legislative 
Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America; Mr. Patrick M. 
Campbell, Legislative Director, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans 
of America; Col. Robert F. Norton, USA (Ret.), Deputy Director, 
Government Relations, Military Officers Association of America; 
The Honorable Charles S. Ciccolella, Assistant Secretary, 
Veterans' Employment and Training Service, U.S. Department of 
Labor; Mr. Thomas L. Bush, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of 
Defense for Reserve Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense; Mr. 
Curtis L. Gilroy, Director for Accession Policy, Office of the 
Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, U.S. 
Department of Defense; and Mr. Keith Pedigo, Associate Deputy 
Under Secretary, Policy and Program Management, U.S. Department 
of Veterans Affairs, accompanied by Mr. John Brizzi, Staff 
Attorney, Office of General Counsel, U.S. Department of 
Veterans Affairs. Those submitting statements for the record 
included: Mr. Jot D. Carpenter Jr., Vice President, Government 
Affairs, CTIA--The Wireless Association; Mr. Kerry Baker, 
Associate National Legislative Director, Disabled American 
Veterans; and Mr. Kyle McSlarrow, President and Chief Executive 
Officer, National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

                        Committee Consideration

    On April 23, 2008, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity 
met in open markup session and ordered favorably forwarded to 
the full Committee H.R. 5664, as amended, by voice vote. During 
consideration of the bill the following amendment was 
considered:
    An amendment in the nature of a substitute by Mr. Hall of 
New York, was agreed to by voice vote.
    On April 30, 2008, the full Committee met in open markup 
session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 5664, as 
amended, favorably reported to the House of Representatives, by 
voice vote.

                            Committee Votes

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires the Committee to list the record votes 
on the motion to report the legislation and amendments thereto. 
There were no record votes taken on amendments or in connection 
with ordering H.R. 5664 reported to the House. A motion by Mr. 
Buyer of Indiana to order H.R. 5664, as amended, reported 
favorably to the House of Representatives was agreed to by 
voice vote.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goals and objectives are reflected in the descriptive portions 
of this report.

   New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee adopts as its 
own the estimate of new budget authority, entitlement 
authority, or tax expenditures or revenues contained in the 
cost estimate prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

                  Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits

    H.R. 5664 does not contain any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9(d), 9(e), or 9(f) of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives.

                        Committee Cost Estimate

    The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate on H.R. 
5664 prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the following is the cost estimate 
for H.R. 5664 provided by the Congressional Budget Office 
pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                       Washington DC, May 12, 2008.
Hon. Bob Filner,
Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 5664, a bill to 
amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of 
Veterans Affairs to update at least once every six years the 
plans and specifications for specially adapted housing 
furnished to veterans by the Secretary.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Camille 
Woodland.
            Sincerely,
                                         Robert A. Sunshine
                                   (For Peter R. Orszag, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 5664--A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the 
        Secretary of Veterans Affairs to update at least once every six 
        years the plans and specifications for specially adapted 
        housing furnished to veterans by the Secretary

    H.R. 5664 would require the Department of Veterans Affairs 
(VA) to provide eligible veterans with a handbook containing 
appropriate designs for specially adapted housing and to update 
the handbook at least every six years. Because VA currently 
provides veterans with such designs, CBO estimates that 
implementing the bill would have an insignificant effect on the 
budget.
    H.R. 5664 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Camille 
Woodland. This estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 5664 prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 423 of the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

                      Advisory Committee Statement

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act would be created by H.R. 
5664.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that the 
Constitutional authority for H.R. 5664 is provided by Article 
I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United States.

                  Applicability to Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation


Section 1. Requirement for regular updates to handbook for designs 
        furnished to veterans eligible for specially adapted housing 
        assistance by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs

    This section would amend section 2103 of title 38, United 
States Code, to require the Secretary of the Department of 
Veterans Affairs to make available, without cost, to veterans 
eligible for assistance under chapter 21 of such title, a 
handbook containing appropriate designs for specially adapted 
housing. The Secretary would be required to update such 
handbook at least every six years to take into account any new 
or unique disabilities, including vision impairments, 
impairments specific to the upper limbs, and burn injuries.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE

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PART II--GENERAL BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 21--SPECIALLY ADAPTED HOUSING FOR DISABLED VETERANS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Sec. 2103. Furnishing of plans and specifications

  [The Secretary] (a) Plans and Specifications._The Secretary 
is authorized to furnish to veterans eligible for assistance 
under this chapter, without cost to the veterans, model plans 
and specifications of suitable housing units.
  (b) Handbook for Design.--The Secretary shall make available 
to veterans eligible for assistance under this chapter, without 
cost to the veterans, a handbook containing appropriate designs 
for specially adapted housing. The Secretary shall update such 
handbook at least every six years to take into account any new 
or unique disabilities, including vision impairments, 
impairments specific to the of upper limbs, and burn injuries.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *