CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The Senate Amendment to H.R. 3219 is expected to be considered on the House floor on Wednesday, September 29, 2010, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote to pass.
Rep. Filner (D-CA) introduced H.R. 3219 on July 15, 2009. On July 27, 2009, the House passed H.R. 3219 by voice vote. On September 28, 2010, the Senate passed its amendment by unanimous consent.
The Senate amendment to H.R. 3219 is an omnibus veterans’ benefits bill.
Title I—Employment, Small Business and Education
The bill would extend the authority for certain qualifying work-study activities for purposes of the educational assistance programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, the bill would reauthorize and extend the Veterans’ Advisory Committee on Education until December 31, 2013. The bill would clarify the responsibility of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to verify small business ownership. The bill would create a demonstration project for referral of Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) claims against federal agencies to the Office of Special Counsel. The bill would establish pilot competitive grant program (Veterans Energy-Related Employment Program) as part of the Veterans Workforce Investment Program for up to three States to provide grants to energy employers that train veterans in skills particular to the energy industry. Lastly, the legislation title would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make available on the VA website, a list of organizations that provide scholarships to veterans by June 1, 2011.
Title II—House and Homelessness
The bill would reauthorize the appropriations for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program through 2011. The bill would allow the Secretary of Labor to make grants to entities that provide job training, counseling, placement, and childcare services to homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children. In addition, the bill would authorize the Labor Secretary to make grants of not more than $200,000 per year to recipients that develop assistive technologies for use in specially adapted housing. Lastly, the bill would provide a waiver of housing loan fee for certain veterans with service-connected disabilities called to active service.
Title III—Servicemembers Civil Relief
This legislation would require that rents or lease amounts for residential premises and lease amounts for motor vehicles that are unpaid for the period preceding the effective date of the lease termination be paid on prorated basis. Also, the bill would allow a servicemember to terminate a contract for cellular telephone or telephone exchange service at any time after receiving notice of military orders to relocate for a period of 90 days or more to a location that does not support the contract. Finally, the bill would allow the Attorney General to bring a civil suit against any violator of the Service Member Civil Relief Act in any U.S. district court.
This legislation would increase the amount of supplemental insurance for totally disabled veterans to $30,000 and provide permanent extension Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage for totally disabled veterans. The bill would adjust coverage of dependents under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance and provide an opportunity to increase amount of Veterans’ Group Life Insurance. The bill would eliminate a reduction in amount of accelerated death benefits for terminally-ill persons insured under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance. The legislation would provide for consideration of loss of dominant hand in prescription of schedule of severity of traumatic injury under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance. The bill would enhance veterans’ mortgage life insurance. Lastly, the bill would allow an expansion of individuals qualifying for retroactive benefits from traumatic injury protection coverage under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance.
Title V—Burial and Cemetery
The bill would increase in certain burial and funeral benefits and plot allowances for veterans. Also, the legislation would provide for interment in national cemeteries of parents of certain deceased veterans. The bill would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to report to Congress on selection of new national cemetery sites one year after enactment.
Title VI—Compensation and Pensions
This legislation would enhance disability compensation for certain disabled veterans with difficulties using prostheses and disabled veterans in need of regular aid and attendance for residuals of traumatic brain injury. The bill would provide a cost-of-living increase for temporary dependency and indemnity compensation payable for surviving spouses with dependent children under the age of 18. The legislation would provide for payment of dependency and indemnity compensation to survivors of former prisoners of war who died on or before September 30, 1999. The legislation would exclude certain amounts from consideration as income for purposes of veterans’ pension benefits. The bill would provide for commencement of period of payment of original awards of compensation for veterans retired or separated from the uniformed services for catastrophic disability. The legislation would require that adult-disabled children of veterans who receive pension under section 1542 of title 38 and are covered by a Medicaid plan while residing in nursing homes, would have their pension benefits reduced in the same manner as veterans and surviving spouses. The bill would provide for an extension of reduced pension for certain veterans covered by Medicaid plans for services furnished by nursing facilities. The legislation would codify 2009 cost-of-living adjustment in rates of pension for disabled veterans and surviving spouses and children.
Title VII—Employment and Reemployment Rights of Members of the Uniformed Services
The legislation would clarify that USERRA prohibits wage discrimination against members of the Armed Forces. It would provide seven additional factors in determining whether an entity is a "successor in interest" for purposes of USERRA enforcement against employers.
The legislation would provide an increase in number of veterans for which programs of independent living services and assistance may be initiated. The bill would allow the Secretary to pay the holder of the obligation the unpaid balance of the loan and accrued interest upon the assignment and delivery to the Secretary of all rights, interests, and claims with respect to the loan if a VA-guaranteed home loan is modified under bankruptcy proceedings. The legislation would provide eligibility of disabled veterans and members of the Armed Forces with severe burn injuries for automobiles and adaptive equipment. The bill would enhance the automobile assistance allowance for veterans. The legislation would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into an agreement with the National Academies Institute of Medicine to carry out a comprehensive review of best treatment practices for chronic multisymptom illness in Persian Gulf War veterans and develop a plan for dissemination of best practices throughout VA. The bill would extend and modify the National Academy of Sciences reviews and evaluations regarding illness and service in Persian Gulf War and Post 9/11 Global Operations Theaters. The legislation would extend the authority for regional office in the Republic of the Philippines. The bill would provide for an extension of an annual report on equitable relief. And, lastly, the legislation would provide authority for the performance of medical disability examinations by contract physicians.
This title would authorize major medical facility leases for fiscal year 2011. The legislation would provide for a modification of authorization amount for major medical facility construction project previously authorized for the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana. The legislation would provide for a modification of authorization amount for major medical facility construction project previously authorized for the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical center, Long Beach, California. The bill would authorize $47,338,000 to be appropriated to the Medical Facilities account for the leases authorized. The legislation would authorize $1,112,845,000 to be appropriated to the Construction, Major Projects account for the projects authorized. The bill would require that bid savings on major medical facility projects of Department of Veterans Affairs be used for other major medical facility construction projects of the Department.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates this bill would decrease the deficit by $8 million over 10 years.