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116th Congress     }                                    {       Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session       }                                    {       116-68

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



 
      VETERANS' COMPENSATION COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENT ACT OF 2019

                                _______
                                

  May 16, 2019.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

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

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 1200]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 1200) to increase, effective as of December 1, 
2019, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-
connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and 
indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled 
veterans, and for other purposes, 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.........................................................     3
Subcommittee Consideration.......................................     4
Committee Consideration..........................................     4
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.............................     5
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     5
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     5
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     5
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     6
Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs.....................     6
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     6

                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    H.R. 1200, the ``Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living 
Adjustment Act of 2019,'' was introduced by Representative 
Elaine Luria, Chair of the Subcommittee on Disability 
Assistance and Memorial Affairs, on February 13, 2019. H.R. 
1200 would become effective December 1, 2019, and increase the 
rates of Wartime Disability Compensation, Compensation for 
Dependents, Clothing Allowance, Dependency and Indemnity 
Compensation to Surviving Spouse, and Dependency and Indemnity 
Compensation to Children by the same percentage as the increase 
in benefits provided under title II (Old Age, Survivors, and 
Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    Veterans who are disabled as a result of their military 
service may be eligible to receive disability compensation. The 
purpose of disability compensation is to provide relief to the 
veteran for the loss of earning capacity due to his or her 
service-connected disability. The amount of compensation a 
veteran receives varies according to the veteran's degree of 
disability.
    To be eligible to receive disability compensation, a 
veteran must have a disability incurred or aggravated during 
military service, which is not the result of willful 
misconduct. Additionally, the veteran must have been discharged 
under other than dishonorable conditions. The Department of 
Veterans Affairs (VA) is responsible for determining if a 
veteran is entitled to service-connection for a disability.
    Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) are monthly 
benefits paid to a surviving spouse and dependent children of a 
veteran who died while on active duty; or as a result of 
disabilities determined by VA to be serviced-connected or had a 
service-connected disability rated at 100 percent for a certain 
period of time prior to death. Survivors who are housebound, 
require aid and attendance, or who have minor children may be 
paid additional amounts. The purpose of DIC benefits authorized 
under chapter 13 of title 38, U.S.C, is to provide partial 
compensation to the disabled veteran's surviving dependents for 
the loss in financial support due to the veteran's service-
connected death. The dependent's income and need are not 
considered when VA determines the entitlement for a surviving 
spouse or child because the government, in part, assumes the 
legal and moral obligation of the deceased veteran to support 
his or her spouse and children.
    Section 2 of H.R. 1200 would increase the rates of Wartime 
Disability Compensation, Additional Compensation for 
Dependents, Clothing Allowance, Dependency and Indemnity 
Compensation to Surviving Spouse, and Dependency and Indemnity 
Compensation to Children. Such increase in benefits would be 
the same percentage as the increase in benefits provided under 
title II (Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) of the 
Social Security Act.
    Section 3 of H.R. 1200 would require the Secretary to 
publish in the Federal Register the cost-of-living as increased 
under section 2, not later than the date on which the matters 
specified by 42 U.S.C. 415(i)(2)(D) of the Social Security Act 
are required to be published during fiscal year 2019.

                                HEARINGS

    For the purposes of section 103(i) of H. Res. 6 of the 
116th Congress--(1) the following hearing was used to develop 
or consider H.R. 1200.
    On May 1, 2019, the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance 
and Memorial Affairs conducted a legislative hearing on various 
bills introduced during the 116th Congress, including H.R. 
1200.
    The following witnesses testified:
          The Honorable Mark Takano, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 41st Congressional District of 
        California; The Honorable David P. Roe, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 1st Congressional District of 
        Tennessee; The Honorable Conor Lamb, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 17th Congressional District of 
        Pennsylvania; The Honorable Greg Steube, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 17th District of Florida; The 
        Honorable Julia Brownley, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 26th Congressional District of 
        Florida; Mr. Matthew Sullivan, Deputy Under Secretary 
        for Finance and Planning, National Cemetery 
        Administration; accompanied by Mr. Kevin Friel, Deputy 
        Director for Pension and Fiduciary, Veterans Benefits 
        Administration; Dr. Patricia Hastings, Deputy Chief 
        Consultant, Post Deployment Health Service, Veterans 
        Health; Mr. Derrick Curtis, Director, Software Testing 
        & 508, Enterprise Portfolio Management Division, Office 
        of Information Technology; Ms. Melanie Brunson, 
        Government Relations Officer, Blinded Veterans 
        Association; Mr. Karl R. Horst, Major General, U.S. 
        Army (Ret), President and Chief Executive Officer, 
        Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation; Ms. Allison 
        Adelle Hedge Coke, Distinguished Professor of Creative 
        Writing, University of California, Riverside; Mr. 
        Carlos Fuentes, Director, National Legislative Service, 
        Veterans of Foreign Wars; Mr. Rick Weidman, Executive 
        Director, Policy and Government Affairs, Vietnam 
        Veterans of America; Mr. Chanin Nuntavong, Veterans 
        Affairs and Rehabilitation Division Director, The 
        American Legion; Mr. Shane L. Liermann, Assistant 
        National Legislative Director, Disabled American 
        Veterans; and Dr. David A. Butler, Director, Office of 
        Military and Veterans Health, Health and Medicine 
        Division, The National Academies of Sciences, 
        Engineering, and Medicine; accompanied by Dr. Ourania 
        Kosti, Senior Program Officer, Principal Investigator, 
        Radiation Effects Research Foundation, The National 
        Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
    Statements for the record were submitted by:
          The Honorable Doug LaMalfa, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 1st Congressional District of 
        California; Mr. John Wells, Executive Director, The 
        Military-Veterans Advocacy; Mr. Keith Kiefer, National 
        Commander, National Association of Atomic Veterans; Mr. 
        Robert Celestial, SGT, U.S. Army Retired (D.A.V.), 
        Veteran who participated in Enewetak Cleanup; Mr. Ken 
        Brownell, Veteran who participated in Enewetak Cleanup; 
        and The American Federation of Government Employees, 
        AFL-CIO.

                       SUBCOMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    There was no Subcommittee consideration of H.R. 1200.

                        COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    On May 8, 2019, the Full Committee met in an open markup 
session, a quorum being present, and reported H.R. 1200 
favorably 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 recorded 
votes on the motion to report the legislation and amendments 
thereto. There were no recorded votes taken on amendments or in 
connection with reporting H.R. 1200 to the House. A motion by 
Ranking Member David P. Roe of Tennessee to report H.R. 1200 
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 establishes the 
following performance goals and objectives for this 
legislation: to increase, as of December 1, 2019, the rates of 
Wartime Disability Compensation, Compensation for Dependents, 
Clothing Allowance, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation to 
Surviving Spouse, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation to 
Children by the same percentage as the increase in benefits 
provided under title II (Old Age, Survivors, and Disability 
Insurance) of the Social Security Act.

   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. 1200 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. 
1200 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. 1200 provided by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974:

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]


    H.R. 1200 would increase the amounts paid to veterans for 
disability compensation and to their survivors for dependency 
and indemnity compensation by the same cost-of-living 
adjustment (COLA) that recipients of Social Security receive in 
2020. The increase would take effect on December 1, 2019.
    Relative to current law, CBO estimates that enacting this 
bill would increase spending for those programs by $1.5 billion 
in fiscal year 2020. CBO estimates that the COLA effective on 
December 1, 2019, will be 2.1 percent. (The annualized cost 
would be about $2.0 billion in subsequent years.) However, 
section 257 of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit 
Control Act directs CBO to assume that COLA will occur in CBO's 
baseline. Because the COLA is assumed in CBO's baseline, 
authorizing that increase would have no budgetary effect 
relative to the baseline.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Logan Smith. 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. 1200 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. 
1200.

                   CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Pursuant to Article I, section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, H.R. 1200 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. 1200 does not relate to the 
terms and conditions of employment or access to public services 
or accommodations within the legislative branch.

              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. 1200 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.

             SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE LEGISLATION

Section 1--Short title

    Section 1 would establish the ``Veterans' Compensation 
Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2019'' as the short title of 
the Act.

Section 2--Increase in rates of disability compensation and dependency 
        and indemnity compensation

    Section 2 would authorize VA to increase, effective 
December 1, 2019, the dollar amounts in effect for the payment 
of disability compensation and dependency and indemnity 
compensation.
    Section 2(b) would specify the amounts that would be 
increased regarding the Wartime Disability Compensation, under 
section 1114 of title 38, U.S.C.; the Additional Compensation 
for Dependents, under section 1115(1) of title 38, U.S.C.; the 
Clothing Allowance, under section 1162 of title 38, U.S.C.; the 
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation to Surviving Spouses, 
under section 1311 of title 38, U.S.C.; and the Dependency and 
Indemnity Compensation to Children, under sections 1313(a) and 
1314 of title 38, U.S.C.
    Section 2(c) would specify that each amount shall be 
increased by the same percentage by which benefits are 
increased under title II of the Social Security Act.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\42 U.S.C. Sec. 415(i).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 2(d) would provide a special rule authorizing VA to 
adjust administratively, consistent with the increases made 
under subsection (a), the rates of disability compensation 
payable to persons within the purview of section 10 of Public 
Law 85-857, who are not in receipt of compensation payable 
pursuant to chapter 11 of title 38, U.S.C.

Section 3--Publication of adjusted rates

    Section 3 would require the Secretary of VA to publish in 
the Federal Register the amounts specified in subsection 2(b), 
as increased pursuant to 41 U.S.C. Sec. 415(i)(2)(D).

                                  [all]