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111th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    111-109

======================================================================
 
  TO AMEND CHAPTER 21 OF TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE, TO ESTABLISH A 
      GRANT PROGRAM TO ENCOURAGE THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW ASSISTIVE 
               TECHNOLOGIES FOR SPECIALLY ADAPTED HOUSING

                                _______
                                

  May 14, 2009.--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. 1170]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 1170) to amend chapter 21 of title 38, United States 
Code, to establish a grant program to encourage the development 
of new assistive technologies for specially adapted housing, 
having considered the same, report favorably thereon with an 
amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Amendment........................................................     1
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     2
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.......................................     6
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     6
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     6
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     6
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     6
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............     7

                               Amendment

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

SECTION 1. SPECIALLY ADAPTED HOUSING ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY GRANT 
                    PROGRAM.

  (a) In General.--Chapter 21 of title 38, United States Code, is 
amended by adding at the end the following new section:

``Sec. 2108. Specially adapted housing assistive technology grant 
                    program

  ``(a) Establishment.--The Secretary shall make grants to encourage 
the development of new assistive technologies for specially adapted 
housing.
  ``(b) Application.--A person seeking a grant under this section shall 
submit to the Secretary an application for the grant in such form and 
manner as the Secretary shall specify.
  ``(c) Grant Funds.--(1) The amount of each grant awarded under this 
section shall be an amount of not more than $200,000 per year.
  ``(2) For each year in which the Secretary makes a grant under this 
section, the Secretary shall make the grant by not later than October 1 
of that year.
  ``(d) Use of Funds.--(1) The recipient of a grant under this section 
shall use the grant to develop assistive technologies for use in 
specially adapted housing.
  ``(2) If the recipient of a grant under this section is awarded a 
patent related to assistive technology developed with amounts under the 
grant, the Secretary shall retain not less than a 30 percent interest 
in such patent.
  ``(e) Report.--Not later than March 1 of each year, the Secretary 
shall submit to Congress a report containing information related to 
each grant awarded under this section during the preceding calendar 
year, including--
          ``(1) the name of the grant recipient;
          ``(2) the amount of the grant; and
          ``(3) the goal of the grant.
  ``(f) Funding.--From amounts appropriated to the Department for 
Medical Services for each fiscal year, $2,000,000 shall be available 
for each such fiscal year for the purposes of the program under this 
section.
  ``(g) Termination.--The authority to make a grant under this section 
shall terminate on the date that is five years after the date of the 
enactment of this section.''.
  (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
chapter 21 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the 
end the following:

``2108. Specially adapted housing assistive technology grant program.''.

  (c) Deadline for Implementation.--The Secretary shall implement the 
grant program under section 2108 of title 38, United States Code, as 
added by subsection (a), by not later than 180 days after the date of 
the enactment of this Act.

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 1170 was introduced on February 25, 2009, by 
Representative John Boozman of Arkansas, the Ranking Member of 
the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity of the Committee on 
Veterans' Affairs. H.R. 1170, as amended, would authorize a 
five-year pilot program to promote research and development of 
adaptive technologies that would be applicable to the Specially 
Adapted Housing program of the U.S. Department of Veterans 
Affairs (VA).

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    The Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) program was established 
in 1948 by Public Law 80-702 (62 Stat. 500). The SAH program 
provides grants up to $60,000 to modify a home to accommodate a 
veteran's service-connected disabilities.
    The SAH program is administered by the VA Loan Guaranty 
Service, part of the Veterans Benefits Administration. Upon 
application for SAH benefits, VA will evaluate the disability 
status and its impact on the veteran's daily life. When a 
disabled veteran is approved for the benefit, SAH field staff 
work with the veteran and construction staff to design 
modifications to the residence to ensure that alterations meet 
VA standards. VA deposits funds in an escrow account and 
controls the disbursement to ensure SAH projects meet VA design 
and construction quality standards and that the project is 
completed.
    In fiscal year 2008, VA approved SAH benefits for 1,236 
disabled veterans totaling $38,000,000. The average benefit 
cost was $30,850. The number of projects approved over fiscal 
years 2008 and 2009 will total an estimated $95,000,000. 
Program officials estimate that during fiscal year 2010, VA 
will approve an additional 1,250 projects totaling $59,000,000.
    Two signature injuries from the wars in Iraq and 
Afghanistan are traumatic brain injury and multiple traumas 
resulting from the effects of exposure to one or more explosive 
devices. Due to greatly improved medical care, both in the 
field and stateside, veterans are fortunately recovering from 
serious injuries such as these but it is likely that there will 
be an increase in the need for advanced technologies to aid our 
wounded veterans' unique disabilities in the future.
    To meet this demand, investing in research and development 
could provide cost-effective solutions for reducing the need 
for round-the-clock nursing care or institutionalization for 
seriously wounded veterans. In general, today's adaptations are 
structural modifications such as ramps, wider halls and doors, 
and lower counters. There are many emerging technologies that 
could lend themselves to enhance the livability of adapted 
homes and improve a veteran's independent living. Some examples 
are electronic aids to daily living such as voice-recognition 
and voice-commanded operations, integrated computer-managed 
functions, alternative human-computer interfaces, living 
environment controls, adaptive feeding equipment, fall 
prevention, pressure sore prevention and recreation assistance.
    H.R. 1170, as amended, would provide that the VA retain a 
30 percent interest in any patent approved as a result of 
funding through this grant program. VA has a long history of 
working with research and development projects that have 
produced tremendous benefits for many sectors of the general 
public. It is expected that taxpayers should see a reasonable 
level of return for the investment of tax dollars as a partial 
offset to the costs of bringing these patents to market. The VA 
should retain any investment returns from these patents to 
assist in funding grants, during the duration of this program.
    The research and development community is diverse, ranging 
from single-person inventors to large corporations and academic 
institutions. The Committee believes the VA should aggressively 
market this grant program, especially to academic institutions 
with either formal or informal research and development 
programs, that could meet the future needs of our wounded 
veterans.

                        Committee Consideration

    On May 6, 2009, the full Committee met in an open markup 
session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 1170, as 
amended, reported favorably to the House of Representatives, by 
voice vote. During consideration of the bill the following 
amendment was considered:

          An amendment by Mr. Boozman of Arkansas to limit the 
        program to five years beginning 180 days after the date 
        of passage was agreed to 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. 1170 reported to the House. A motion by Mr. 
Buyer of Indiana to order H.R. 1170, 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. 1170 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. 
1170 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. 1170 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 13, 2009.
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. 1170, a bill to 
amend chapter 21 of title 38, United States Code, to establish 
a grant program to encourage the development of new assistive 
technologies for specially adapted housing.
    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 Douglas W. Elmendorf, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 1170--A bill to amend chapter 21 of title 38, United States Code, 
        to establish a grant program to encourage the development of 
        new assistive technologies for specially adapted housing

    H.R. 1170 would create a grant program to foster the 
development of technologies to improve specially adapted 
housing and would authorize the appropriation of up to $2 
million per year over the next five years for that purpose. 
Such technologies would be those that could be used to alter or 
construct housing to be more functional and accessible for 
veterans with certain service-connected disabilities. CBO 
estimates that implementing the bill would cost $6 million over 
the 2010-2014 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary 
amounts. Enacting the bill would have an insignificant effect 
on direct spending and would have no effect on revenues.
    CBO estimates that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 
would award approximately $1 million in grants in 2010 and $8 
million over the 2010-2014 period. Based on outlay rates for 
similar federal programs that provide research grants, CBO 
estimates that spending would total less than $500,000 in 2010; 
we estimate that annual spending would rise to $1 million in 
2011 and $2 million by 2014.
    If grant recipients obtained a patent for the technology 
developed under this grant, VA would retain at least a 30 
percent interest in the patent. Based on the size of individual 
grants--up to $200,000--and the length of time required to 
develop products and to complete the patent process, CBO 
estimates that any offsetting receipts the government might 
receive (from profits earned on technologies developed under 
this program) would be quite small and the impact on direct 
spending would be insignificant.
    H.R. 1170 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Camille 
Woodland. The 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. 1170 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. 
1170.

                   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. 1170 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. Specially Adapted Housing Assistance Technology Grant 
        Program

    This section establishes a new section 2108 in title 38, 
United States Code, that creates a grant pilot program to 
encourage the development of new assistive technologies for 
specially adapted housing.
    New subsection (b) requires that persons seeking such 
grants submit an application to the VA in a manner specified by 
the Secretary. This section would specify that each individual 
grant not exceed $200,000 per year and that grants be made no 
later than October 1 of the year in which the Secretary makes 
grants available.
    New subsection (d) requires the use of funds provided by 
this grant be used to develop assistive technologies for use in 
specially adapted housing and requires the grantee to provide a 
30 percent interest to the VA if a patent is awarded as a 
result of funds from the grant program.
    New subsection (e) requires the Secretary to provide an 
annual report to Congress containing, for the preceding 
calendar year, the name of each grant recipient, the amount of 
each grant, and the goal of each grant.
    New subsection (f) authorizes $2,000,000 from the 
Department of Medical Services for each fiscal year for this 
program.
    New subsection (g) provides that the grant program shall 
terminate five years after the date of enactment.
    Subsection (c) of section 1 provides a deadline for 
implementation of the program of 180 days after the date of 
enactment.

         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 (new matter is 
printed in italic and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



PART II--GENERAL BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



      CHAPTER 21--SPECIALLY ADAPTED HOUSING FOR DISABLED VETERANS

Sec.
2101.  Acquisition and adaptation of housing: eligible veterans.
     * * * * * * *
2108.  Specially adapted housing assistive technology grant program.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 2108. Specially adapted housing assistive technology grant program

  (a) Establishment.--The Secretary shall make grants to 
encourage the development of new assistive technologies for 
specially adapted housing.
  (b) Application.--A person seeking a grant under this section 
shall submit to the Secretary an application for the grant in 
such form and manner as the Secretary shall specify.
  (c) Grant Funds.--(1) The amount of each grant awarded under 
this section shall be an amount of not more than $200,000 per 
year.
  (2) For each year in which the Secretary makes a grant under 
this section, the Secretary shall make the grant by not later 
than October 1 of that year.
  (d) Use of Funds.--(1) The recipient of a grant under this 
section shall use the grant to develop assistive technologies 
for use in specially adapted housing.
  (2) If the recipient of a grant under this section is awarded 
a patent related to assistive technology developed with amounts 
under the grant, the Secretary shall retain not less than a 30 
percent interest in such patent.
  (e) Report.--Not later than March 1 of each year, the 
Secretary shall submit to Congress a report containing 
information related to each grant awarded under this section 
during the preceding calendar year, including--
          (1) the name of the grant recipient;
          (2) the amount of the grant; and
          (3) the goal of the grant.
  (f) Funding.--From amounts appropriated to the Department for 
Medical Services for each fiscal year, $2,000,000 shall be 
available for each such fiscal year for the purposes of the 
program under this section.
  (g) Termination.--The authority to make a grant under this 
section shall terminate on the date that is five years after 
the date of the enactment of this section.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *