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115th Congress   }                                     {     Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session      }                                     {      115-870

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

 
AMENDING TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE, TO PROVIDE FOR THE INCLUSION OF 
   CERTAIN ADDITIONAL PERIODS OF ACTIVE DUTY SERVICE FOR PURPOSES OF 
 SUSPENDING CHARGES TO VETERANS' ENTITLEMENT TO EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE 
UNDER THE LAWS ADMINISTERED BY THE SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS DURING 
    PERIODS OF SUSPENDED PARTICIPATION IN VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION 
                                PROGRAMS

                                _______
                                

 July 24, 2018.--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. 5538]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 5538) to amend title 38, United States Code, to 
provide for the inclusion of certain additional periods of 
active duty service for purposes of suspending charges to 
veterans' entitlement to educational assistance under the laws 
administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs during 
periods of suspended participation in vocational rehabilitation 
programs, having considered the same, report favorably thereon 
without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
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............     3
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures     3
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..............................     5
Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs.....................     5
Disclosure of Directed Rulemaking................................     6
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     6
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............     6

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 5538 would authorize that when a member of the Guard 
and Reserve component is called to active duty under an order 
authorized by 12304, 12304a, 12304b of title 10, United States 
Code (U.S.C.) in the middle of a training program being paid 
for by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Vocational 
Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program, the servicemember 
would not be charged for the duration of the training used due 
to the interruption. Representative Scott Peters of California 
introduced H.R. 5538 on April 17, 2018.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    Section 3103 of title 38, U.S.C. provides that VR&E 
beneficiaries have 12 years to use these benefits beginning on 
the date from when they were discharged from active duty to use 
a maximum of 48 months of assistance. Section 3105 of title 38, 
U.S.C. authorizes certain members of the National Guard or 
Reserves ordered to active duty to pause their program and not 
charge entitlement for training they began before they were 
ordered to active duty and were unable to complete this 
training due to these orders. This section authorizes that 
orders under 12304 of title 10, U.S.C. (support of forces 
following a terrorist attack) are eligible for this pause, but 
orders under sections 12304a and 12304b of title 10, U.S.C. are 
not eligible. This bill would address this issue, and would 
permit those serving under orders authorized by 12304a and 
12304b of title 10, U.S.C. to also not charge entitlement for 
the training time they used towards the completion of a 
training program they were unable to complete due to being 
ordered to active duty. The Committee acknowledges that orders 
authorized by 12304a and 12304b of title 10, U.S.C. are special 
orders used to respond to domestic emergencies at the request 
of the governor (12304a) or to augment combat forces on 
preplanned deployments serving overseas (12304b). As such, the 
Committee believes it is appropriate to acknowledge that 
servicemembers serving under these orders are preforming some 
of the same duties as those who are currently eligible to waive 
this entitlement charge due to being ordered to active duty.

                                Hearings

    On May 23, 2018, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity 
held a legislative hearing on several bills pending before the 
Subcommittee including H.R. 5538.
    The following witnesses testified:
          The Honorable Julia Brownley, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 26th District, California; The 
        Honorable Scott Peters, U.S. House of Representatives, 
        52nd District, California; The Honorable Brad Wenstrup, 
        U.S. House of Representatives, 2nd District, Ohio; The 
        Honorable Cheri Bustos, U.S. House of Representatives, 
        17th District, Illinois; The Honorable Ryan Costello, 
        U.S. House of Representatives, 6th District, 
        Pennsylvania; Ms. Margarita Devlin, Principal Deputy 
        Under Secretary for Benefits, Veterans Benefits 
        Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; 
        Mr. John Kamin, Assistant Director, Veterans Employment 
        and Education Division, The American Legion; Ms. Lauren 
        Augustine, Vice President of Government Affairs, 
        Student Veterans of America; and Ms. Rebecca Burgess, 
        Program Manager, Program on American Citizenship, 
        American Enterprise Institute.
    Statements for the record were submitted by:
          U.S. Department of Defense; U.S. Department of 
        Justice; Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors; and 
        Paralyzed Veterans of America.

                       Subcommittee Consideration

    There was no Subcommittee consideration of H.R. 5538.

                        Committee Consideration

    On July 12, 2018, the full Committee met in open markup 
session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 5538 to be 
reported favorably to the House of Representatives by voice 
vote.

                            Committee Votes

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, there were no recorded votes 
taken on amendments or in connection with ordering H.R. 5538 
reported to the House. A motion by Representative Tim Walz of 
Minnesota to report H.R. 5538 favorably to the House of 
Representatives was adopted 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 to provide servicemembers with more 
opportunities to complete VR&E training.

   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. 5538 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. 
5538 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. 5538 provided by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, July 18, 2018.
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. 5538, a bill to 
amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the 
inclusion of certain additional periods of active-duty service 
for purposes of suspending charges to veterans' entitlement to 
educational assistance under the laws administered by the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs during periods of suspended 
participation in vocational rehabilitation programs.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is David Newman.
            Sincerely,
                                             Mark P. Hadley
                                        (For Keith Hall, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R.--A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the 
        inclusion of certain additional periods of active-duty service 
        for purposes of suspending charges to veterans' entitlement to 
        educational assistance under the laws administered by the 
        Secretary of Veterans Affairs during periods of suspended 
        participation in vocational rehabilitation programs

    Veterans with service-connected disabilities that limit or 
prevent them from being employed can receive vocational 
rehabilitation services such as education, job training, and 
physical therapy from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 
The costs of those services are paid from mandatory 
appropriations. Generally, veterans can receive up to 48 months 
of such benefits, but VA has broad authority to provide such 
benefits after that limit has been reached.
    Under that program, if veterans are unable to complete a 
course of education because they are called to active duty 
under any of six authorities that are listed in 38 U.S.C. 
Sec. 3105, the uncompleted course does not count towards the 
limit on their benefits. H.R. 5538 would add active-duty 
service to participate in certain preplanned training 
operations or in response to natural disasters to the list of 
orders specified in section 3105.
    CBO expects that few veterans who are receiving vocational 
rehabilitation would be mobilized for those operations and that 
VA would likely extend the availability of benefits under 
current law if the veteran needed more time to complete a 
program of education. However, under this provision, a very 
small number of veterans could receive more benefits than they 
would have gotten under current law. The costs for those 
veterans who receive additional benefits under the bill would 
be insignificant over the 2019-2028 period, CBO estimates.
    Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because enacting H.R. 5538 
would affect direct spending. However, CBO estimates that the 
effects would be insignificant for each year. Enacting the bill 
would not affect revenues.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 5538 would not increase 
net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2029.
    H.R. 5538 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is David Newman. 
The estimate was reviewed by Leo Lex, Deputy Assistant Director 
for Budget Analysis.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 5538 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. 
5538.

                 Statement of Constitutional Authority

    Pursuant to Article I, section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, H.R. 5538 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. 5538 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. 5538 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. 5538 contains no directed 
rulemaking that would require the Secretary to prescribe 
regulations.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation


Section 1. Inclusion of certain additional periods of active duty 
        service for purposes of suspension of charges to entitlement 
        during periods of suspended participation in Department of 
        Veterans Affairs vocational rehabilitation programs

    This section would amend Section 3105(e)(2) of title 38, 
U.S.C., by striking ``or 12304'' and inserting ``12304, 12304a, 
or 12304b''.

         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):

         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 III--READJUSTMENT AND RELATED BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


   CHAPTER 31--TRAINING AND REHABILITATION FOR VETERANS WITH SERVICE-
CONNECTED DISABILITIES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3105. Duration of rehabilitation programs

  (a) In any case in which the Secretary is unable to determine 
whether it currently is reasonably feasible for a veteran to 
achieve a vocational goal, the period of extended evaluation 
under section 3106(c) of this title may not exceed twelve 
months, except that such period may be extended for additional 
periods of up to six months each if the Secretary determines 
before granting any such extension that it is reasonably likely 
that, during the period of any such extension, a determination 
can be made whether the achievement of a vocational goal is 
reasonably feasible in the case of such veteran.
  (b)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) and in subsection 
(c), the period of a vocational rehabilitation program for a 
veteran under this chapter following a determination of the 
current reasonable feasibility of achieving a vocational goal 
may not exceed forty-eight months, except that the counseling 
and placement and postplacement services described in section 
3104(a)(2) and (5) of this title may be provided for an 
additional period not to exceed eighteen months in any case in 
which the Secretary determines the provision of such counseling 
and services to be necessary to accomplish the purposes of a 
rehabilitation program in the individual case.
  (2) The period of a vocational rehabilitation program pursued 
by a veteran under section 3102(b) of this title following a 
determination of the current reasonable feasibility of 
achieving a vocational goal may not exceed 12 months.
  (c) The Secretary may extend the period of a vocational 
rehabilitation program for a veteran to the extent that the 
Secretary determines that an extension of such period is 
necessary to enable such veteran to achieve a vocational goal 
if the Secretary also determines--
          (1) that such veteran had previously been 
        rehabilitated to the point of employability but (A) 
        such veteran's need for further vocational 
        rehabilitation has arisen out of a worsening of such 
        veteran's service-connected disability that precludes 
        such veteran from performing the duties of the 
        occupation for which such veteran had been so 
        rehabilitated, or (B) the occupation for which such 
        veteran had been so rehabilitated is not suitable in 
        view of such veteran's current employment handicap and 
        capabilities; or
          (2) under regulations which the Secretary shall 
        prescribe, that such veteran has a serious employment 
        handicap and that an extension of such period is 
        necessary to accomplish the purposes of a 
        rehabilitation program for such veteran.
  (d)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), the period of a 
program of independent living services and assistance for a 
veteran under this chapter (following a determination by the 
Secretary that such veteran's disability or disabilities are so 
severe that the achievement of a vocational goal currently is 
not reasonably feasible) may not exceed twenty-four months.
  (2)(A) The period of a program of independent living services 
and assistance for a veteran under this chapter may exceed 
twenty-four months as follows:
          (i) If the Secretary determines that a longer period 
        is necessary and likely to result in a substantial 
        increase in the veteran's level of independence in 
        daily living.
          (ii) If the veteran served on active duty during the 
        Post-9/ 11 Global Operations period and has a severe 
        disability (as determined by the Secretary for purposes 
        of this clause) incurred or aggravated in such service.
  (B) In this paragraph, the term ``Post-9/11 Global Operations 
period'' means the period of the Persian Gulf War beginning on 
September 11, 2001, and ending on the date thereafter 
prescribed by Presidential proclamation or by law.
  (e)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter or 
chapter 36 of this title, any payment of a subsistence 
allowance and other assistance described in paragraph (2) shall 
not--
          (A) be charged against any entitlement of any veteran 
        under this chapter; or
          (B) be counted toward the aggregate period for which 
        section 3695 of this title limits an individual's 
        receipt of allowance or assistance.
  (2) The payment of the subsistence allowance and other 
assistance referred to in paragraph (1) is the payment of such 
an allowance or assistance for the period described in 
paragraph (3) to a veteran for participation in a vocational 
rehabilitation program under this chapter if the Secretary 
finds that the veteran had to suspend or discontinue 
participation in such vocational rehabilitation program as a 
result of being ordered to serve on active duty under section 
688, 12301(a), 12301(d), 12301(g), 12302, [or 12304] 12304, 
12304a, or 12304b of title 10.
  (3) The period for which, by reason of this subsection, a 
subsistence allowance and other assistance is not charged 
against entitlement or counted toward the applicable aggregate 
period under section 3695 of this title shall be the period of 
participation in the vocational rehabilitation program for 
which the veteran failed to receive credit or with respect to 
which the veteran lost training time, as determined by the 
Secretary.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                                  [all]