CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 1170 is being considered on the floor under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage on Tuesday, May 19, 2009. This legislation was introduced by Rep. John Boozman (R-AR) on February 25, 2009. The bill was referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, which held a mark up and reported the bill, as amended, by voice vote on May 14, 2009.
H.R. 1170 would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a grant program to "encourage the development of new assistive technologies for specially adapted housing." The Secretary would be required to develop an application processes and award grants of not more than $200,000 per year. Grant recipients would use the funds to develop assistive technologies for use in specially adapted housing. If a grant recipient receives a patent for a technology awarded under this bill, the Secretary would retain a 30 percent share of the grant.
The bill would require the Secretary to report to Congress annually on the grant awards. H.R. 1170 would authorize $2 million annually from funds appropriated for the Department for Medical Services to pay for the grants program. The grant program would sunset in five years of the date of enactment.
According to House Report 111-109, the Specialty Adapted Housing program was established in 1948 and provides grants up $60,000 to modify homes to meet the needs of veterans with service related disabilities. The program is administered by the Veterans Benefits Administration through the VA Loan Guaranty Service. VA officials estimate that in 2008 and 2009, the program will provide benefits to nearly 3,000 disabled veterans at a total estimated cost of $95 million.
The Committee on Veterans' Affairs notes that the two most common injuries from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are traumatic brain injury and multiple traumas resulting from explosive devices. As more service members return from the wars with these types of injuries, there has been an increased demand for advanced technologies to injured soldiers recover from these specific injuries. H.R. 1170 attempts to meet the growing demand for new technologies to address these injuries by creating a five-year grant program to fund the development of new assistive technologies for specially adapted housing.
According to CBO, H.R. 1170 would cost $6 million over the Fiscal Year 2010-2014 period.