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115th Congress   }                                            {   Report
                          HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session     }                                            {  115-387

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

 
  TO AMEND TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE, TO PROVIDE FOR A CONSISTENT 
   ELIGIBILITY DATE FOR PROVISION OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 
  MEMORIAL HEADSTONES AND MARKERS FOR ELIGIBLE SPOUSES AND DEPENDENT 
           CHILDREN OF VETERANS WHOSE REMAINS ARE UNAVAILABLE

                                _______
                                

November 6, 2017.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Roe of Tennessee, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 3656]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 3656) to amend title 38, United States Code, to 
provide for a consistent eligibility date for provision of 
Department of Veterans Affairs memorial headstones and markers 
for eligible spouses and dependent children of veterans whose 
remains are unavailable, 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 Need for Legislation..............................     2
Hearings.........................................................     2
Subcommittee Consideration.......................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
Committee Votes..................................................     3
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     3
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
Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs.....................     6
Disclosure of Directed Rulemaking................................     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. ELIGIBILITY OF VETERANS' SPOUSES AND DEPENDENT CHILDREN 
                    WHOSE REMAINS ARE UNAVAILABLE FOR DEPARTMENT OF 
                    VETERANS AFFAIRS MEMORIAL HEADSTONES AND MARKERS.

  Section 2306(b)(2) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--
          (1) in subparagraph (B), by striking ``The'' and inserting 
        ``An individual who dies on or after November 11, 1998, who is 
        the''; and
          (2) in subparagraph (C), by striking ``An'' and inserting 
        ``An individual who dies on or after November 11, 1998, who is 
        an''.

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 3656, as amended, would establish a consistent 
applicability date for provision of memorial headstones and 
markers for certain family members of veterans. Specifically, 
veterans' spouses and dependent children whose remains are 
unavailable and who die on or after November 11, 1998, would be 
eligible for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) memorial 
headstone and markers.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    Under current law, if the remains of a surviving spouse of 
a veteran are unavailable, VA may provide a memorial headstone 
or marker if the spouse dies on or after November 11, 1998.\1\ 
However, VA may only provide a memorial headstone or marker for 
the unavailable remains of a veteran's dependent child who dies 
on or after December 22, 2006.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\P.L. 105-368 401.
    \2\P.L. 109-461 401.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This proposal would establish a consistent applicability 
date for providing a memorial headstone or marker for a 
veteran's surviving spouse and dependent child whose remains 
are unavailable.
    During the September 13, 2017 Subcommittee on Disability 
Assistance and Memorial Affairs legislative hearing, 
representatives from The American Legion, the Paralyzed 
Veterans of America, the Tragedy Assistance Program for 
Survivors, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United 
States, testified in favor of H.R. 3656. Additionally, VA 
testified that passage of H.R. 3656 would simplify and 
streamline the administrative process for providing the 
headstone and marker benefit. However, VA recommended that a 
minor technical clarification to the bill text to ensure that 
the effective date of November 11, 1998, would apply to the 
death of the spouse or the dependent child of the veteran, 
rather than the veteran.

                                Hearings

    On September 13, 2017, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held 
a legislative hearing on H.R. 3656.
    The following witnesses testified:
          The Honorable David Rouzer, U.S. House of 
        Representatives; the Honorable Steve Stivers, U.S. 
        House of Representatives; the Honorable Joyce Beatty, 
        U.S. House of Representatives; the Honorable Matt 
        Cartwright, U.S. House of Representatives; the 
        Honorable Jim Banks, U.S. House of Representatives; the 
        Honorable Chellie Pingree, U.S. House of 
        Representatives; Mr. Matthew T. Sullivan, Deputy Under 
        Secretary for Finance and Planning and Chief Financial 
        Officer, National Cemetery Administration, U.S. 
        Department of Veterans Affairs, accompanied by Ms. 
        Roberta Lowe, Director, Office of Internal Controls, 
        Acting Director, Debt Management Center, Office of 
        Management, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and 
        Ms. Cheryl Rawls, Director, Pension & Fiduciary 
        Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. 
        Department of Veterans Affairs; Ms. Elizabeth H. Curda, 
        Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security 
        Team, U.S. Government Accountability Office; Mr. Alex 
        Zhang, Assistant Director, National Veterans Affairs 
        and Rehabilitation Division, The American Legion; Mr. 
        LeRoy Acosta, Assistant National Legislative Director, 
        Disabled American Veterans; Mr. Blake Ortner, Deputy 
        Government Relations Director, Paralyzed Veterans of 
        America; Ms. Kathleen Moakler, Director, Survivor 
        Advocacy, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors; 
        and, Mr. John Towles, Deputy Director, National 
        Legislative Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the 
        United States.

                       Subcommittee Consideration

    H.R. 3656 was not considered before the Subcommittee on 
Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

                        Committee Consideration

    On October 12, 2017, the Full Committee met in an open 
markup session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 3656, 
as amended, favorably reported to the House of Representatives 
by voice vote. During consideration of the bill, the following 
amendment to H.R. 3656 was considered and agreed to by voice 
vote:
          An amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by 
        Mr. Banks of Indiana that would clarify that the bill 
        would expand the eligibility for memorial headstones 
        and markers for all eligible non-veterans who die on or 
        after November 11, 1998.

                            Committee Votes

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, there were no recorded votes were 
taken on amendments. A motion by Ranking Member Timothy J. Walz 
of Minnesota to report H.R. 3656, as amended, 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 
goal and objective is to establish a consistent eligibility 
date for provision of a VA memorial headstone or marker for 
veterans' spouses and dependent children whose remains are 
unavailable.

   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. 3656, as amended, does not contain any Congressional 
earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as 
defined in clause 9 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. 
3656, as amended, 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. 3656, as amended, 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, October 23, 2017.
Hon. Phil Roe, M.D.,
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. 3656, a bill to 
amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for a consistent 
eligibility date for provision of Department of Veterans 
Affairs memorial headstones and markers for eligible spouses 
and dependent children of veterans whose remains are 
unavailable.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Matt Schmit.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 3656--A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for 
        a consistent eligibility date for provision of Department of 
        Veterans Affairs memorial headstones and markers for eligible 
        spouses and dependent children of veterans whose remains are 
        unavailable

    The Veterans Programs Enhancement Act of 1998 (Public Law 
105-368) authorized the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to 
provide, upon request, a memorial headstone (for placement in a 
national or state veterans' cemetery) to commemorate the 
deceased spouse or un-remarried surviving spouse of a veteran 
in certain instances where the spousal remains are not 
available. Subsequent public laws extended this benefit to 
certain dependent children and remarried survivors, but those 
acts only applied the benefit to those who died after 2006 and 
2008, respectively. H.R. 3656 would extend this benefit to all 
eligible beneficiaries who died on or after November 11, 1998.
    Because burial benefits are paid from mandatory 
appropriations, enacting H.R. 3656 would increase direct 
spending; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. Based on 
an analysis of data from VA, CBO estimates about 2,000 
additional headstones would be provided under H.R. 3656, at an 
average cost of about $200 per headstone. Therefore, CBO 
estimates that the increased direct spending would be 
insignificant for each year and would total less than $500,000 
over the 2018-2027 period. Enacting H.R. 3656 would not affect 
revenues.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 3656 would not 
significantly increase net direct spending or on-budget 
deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods 
beginning in 2028.
    H.R. 3656 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Matt Schmit. The 
estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 3656, as amended, 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. 
3656, as amended.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to Article I, section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, H.R. 3656, as amended, is authorized by Congress' 
power to ``provide for the common Defense and general Welfare 
of the United States.''

                  Applicability to Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that H.R. 3656, as amended, 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.

              Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(5) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that no provision 
of H.R. 3656, as amended, establishes or reauthorizes a program 
of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of another 
Federal program, a program that was included in any report from 
the Government Accountability Office to Congress pursuant to 
section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program related to a 
program identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal 
Domestic Assistance.

                   Disclosure of Directed Rulemaking

    Pursuant to section 3(i) of H. Res. 5, 115th Cong. (2017), 
the Committee estimates that H.R. 3656, as amended, contains no 
directed rule making that would require the Secretary to 
prescribe regulations.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation


Sec. 1. Eligibility of veterans' spouses and dependent children whose 
        remains are unavailable for Department of Veterans Affairs 
        memorial headstones and markers

    Section 1 would amend section 2306(b)(2) of title 38, 
United States Code to establish that VA may provide a memorial 
headstone or marker for a veteran's surviving spouse or 
dependent child whose remains are unavailable and who die on or 
after November 11, 1998.

         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):

          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, and existing law in which no 
change is proposed is shown in roman):

TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



PART II--GENERAL BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 23--BURIAL BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Sec. 2306. Headstones, markers, and burial receptacles

  (a) The Secretary shall furnish, when requested, appropriate 
Government headstones or markers at the expense of the United 
States for the unmarked graves of the following:
  (1) Any individual buried in a national cemetery or in a post 
cemetery.
  (2) Any individual eligible for burial in a national cemetery 
(but not buried there), except for those persons or classes of 
persons enumerated in section 2402(a)(4), (5), and (6) of this 
title.
  (3) Soldiers of the Union and Confederate Armies of the Civil 
War.
  (4) Any individual described in section 2402(a)(5) of this 
title who is buried in a veterans' cemetery owned by a State.
  (5) Any individual who at the time of death was entitled to 
retired pay under chapter 1223 of title 10 or would have been 
entitled to retired pay under that chapter but for the fact 
that the person was under 60 years of age.
  (b)(1) The Secretary shall furnish, when requested, an 
appropriate memorial headstone or marker for the purpose of 
commemorating an eligible individual whose remains are 
unavailable. Such a headstone or marker shall be furnished for 
placement in a national cemetery area reserved for that purpose 
under section 2403 of this title, a veterans' cemetery owned by 
a State, or, in the case of a veteran, in a State, local, or 
private cemetery.
  (2) For purposes of paragraph (1), an eligible individual is 
any of the following:
          (A) A veteran.
          (B) [The] An individual who dies on or after November 
        11, 1998, who is the spouse or surviving spouse of a 
        veteran.
          (C) [An] An individual who dies on or after November 
        11, 1998, who is an eligible dependent child of a 
        veteran.
  (3) For purposes of paragraph (1), the remains of an 
individual shall be considered to be unavailable if the 
individual's remains--
          (A) have not been recovered or identified;
          (B) were buried at sea, whether by the individual's 
        own choice or otherwise;
          (C) were donated to science; or
          (D) were cremated and the ashes scattered without 
        interment of any portion of the ashes.
  (4) For purposes of this subsection:
          (A) The term ``veteran'' includes an individual who 
        dies in the active military, naval, or air service.
          (B) The term ``surviving spouse'' includes a 
        surviving spouse who had a subsequent remarriage.
  (5) For purposes of this section, the term ``eligible 
dependent child'' means a child--
          (A) who is under 21 years of age, or under 23 years 
        of age if pursuing a course of instruction at an 
        approved educational institution; or
          (B) who is unmarried and became permanently 
        physically or mentally disabled and incapable of self-
        support before reaching 21 years of age, or before 
        reaching 23 years of age if pursuing a course of 
        instruction at an approved educational institution.
  (c) A headstone or marker furnished under subsection (a), 
(b), or (d) of this section may be of any material, including 
but not limited to marble, granite, bronze, or slate, requested 
by the person entitled to request such headstone or marker if 
the material requested is determined by the Secretary (1) to be 
cost effective, and (2) in a case in which the headstone or 
marker is to be placed in a national cemetery, to be 
aesthetically compatible with the area of the cemetery in which 
it is to be placed.
  (d)(1) The Secretary shall furnish, when requested, an 
appropriate Government headstone or marker at the expense of 
the United States for the grave of an individual described in 
paragraph (2) or (5) of subsection (a) who is buried in a 
private cemetery, notwithstanding that the grave is marked by a 
headstone or marker furnished at private expense. Such a 
headstone or marker may be furnished only if the individual 
making the request for the Government headstone or marker 
certifies to the Secretary that the headstone or marker will be 
placed on the grave for which the headstone or marker is 
requested, or, if placement on the grave is impossible or 
impracticable, as close as possible to the grave within the 
grounds of the cemetery in which the grave is located.
  (2) Any headstone or marker furnished under this subsection 
shall be delivered by the Secretary directly to the cemetery 
where the grave is located or to a receiving agent for delivery 
to the cemetery.
  (3) The headstone or marker furnished under this subsection 
shall be the headstone or marker selected by the individual 
making the request from among all the headstones and markers 
made available by the Government for selection.
  (4)(A) In lieu of furnishing a headstone or marker under this 
subsection to a deceased individual described in subparagraph 
(B), the Secretary may furnish, upon request, a medallion or 
other device of a design determined by the Secretary to signify 
the deceased individual's status as a veteran, to be attached 
to a headstone or marker furnished at private expense.
  (B) A deceased individual described in this subsection is an 
individual who--
          (i) served in the Armed Forces on or after April 6, 
        1917; and
          (ii) is eligible for a headstone or marker furnished 
        under paragraph (1) (or would be so eligible but for 
        the date of the death of the individual).
  (5)(A) In carrying out this subsection with respect to a 
deceased individual described in subparagraph (C), the 
Secretary shall furnish, upon request, a headstone or marker 
under paragraph (1) or a medallion under paragraph (4) that 
signifies the deceased's status as a medal of honor recipient.
  (B) If the Secretary furnished a headstone, marker, or 
medallion under paragraph (1) or (4) for a deceased individual 
described in subparagraph (C) that does not signify the 
deceased's status as a medal of honor recipient, the Secretary 
shall, upon request, replace such headstone, marker, or 
medallion with a headstone, marker, or medallion, as the case 
may be, that so signifies the deceased's status as a medal of 
honor recipient.
  (C) A deceased individual described in this subparagraph is a 
deceased individual who--
          (i) served in the Armed Forces on or after April 6, 
        1917;
          (ii) is eligible for a headstone or marker furnished 
        under paragraph (1) or a medallion furnished under 
        paragraph (4) (or would be so eligible for such 
        headstone, marker, or medallion but for the date of the 
        death of the individual); and
          (iii) was awarded the medal of honor under section 
        3741, 6241, or 8741 of title 10 or section 491 of title 
        14 (including posthumously).
  (D) In this paragraph, the term ``medal of honor recipient'' 
means an individual who is awarded the medal of honor under 
section 3741, 6241, or 8741 of title 10 or section 491 of title 
14.
  (e)(1) The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall provide an 
outer burial receptacle for each new grave in an open cemetery 
under the control of the National Cemetery Administration in 
which remains are interred in a casket. The Secretary of the 
Army may provide an outer burial receptacle for such a grave in 
the Arlington National Cemetery.
  (2) The use of outer burial receptacles in a cemetery under 
the control of the National Cemetery Administration or in the 
Arlington National Cemetery shall be in accordance with 
regulations or procedures approved by the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs or Secretary of the Army, respectively.
  (3) Regulations or procedures under paragraph (2) may specify 
that--
          (A) an outer burial receptacle other than a grave 
        liner be provided in lieu of a grave liner at the 
        election of the survivors of the interred veteran; and
          (B) if an outer burial receptacle other than a grave 
        liner is provided in lieu of a grave liner upon an 
        election of such survivors, such survivors be 
        required--
                  (i) to pay the amount by which the cost of 
                the outer burial receptacle exceeds the cost of 
                the grave liner that would otherwise have been 
                provided in the absence of the election; and
                  (ii) to pay the amount of the administrative 
                costs incurred by the Secretary (or, with 
                respect to Arlington National Cemetery, the 
                Secretary of the Army) in providing the outer 
                burial receptacle in lieu of such grave liner.
  (4) Regulations or procedures under paragraph (2) may provide 
for the use of a voucher system, or other system of 
reimbursement approved by the Secretary (or, with respect to 
Arlington National Cemetery, the Secretary of the Army), for 
payment for outer burial receptacles other than grave liners 
provided under such regulations or procedures.
  (f) The Secretary may furnish a casket or urn, of such 
quality as the Secretary considers appropriate for a dignified 
burial, for burial of a deceased veteran in a national cemetery 
or in a veterans cemetery of a State or tribal organization for 
which the Department has provided a grant under section 2408 of 
this title in any case in which the Secretary--
          (1) is unable to identify the veteran's next of kin, 
        if any; and
          (2) determines that sufficient resources for the 
        furnishing of a casket or urn for such burial are not 
        otherwise available.
  (g)(1) When the Secretary has furnished a headstone or marker 
under subsection (a) for the unmarked grave of an individual, 
the Secretary shall, if feasible, add a memorial inscription to 
that headstone or marker rather than furnishing a separate 
headstone or marker under that subsection for the surviving 
spouse or eligible dependent child of such individual.
  (2) When the Secretary has furnished a memorial headstone or 
marker under subsection (b) for purposes of commemorating a 
veteran or an individual who died in the active military, 
naval, or air service, the Secretary shall, if feasible, add a 
memorial inscription to that headstone or marker rather than 
furnishing a separate memorial headstone or marker under that 
subsection for the surviving spouse or eligible dependent child 
of such individual.
  (h)(1) A headstone or marker may not be furnished under 
subsection (a) for the unmarked grave of a person described in 
section 2411(b) of this title.
  (2) A memorial headstone or marker may not be furnished under 
subsection (b) for the purpose of commemorating a person 
described in section 2411(b) of this title.
  (3) A headstone or marker may not be furnished under 
subsection (d) for the grave of a person described in section 
2411(b) of this title.
  (4) A casket or urn may not be furnished under subsection (f) 
for burial of a person described in section 2411(b) of this 
title.

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