CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, December 6, 2016, the House will consider the S. 3076, Charles Duncan Buried with Honor Act of 2016, under suspension of the rules. S. 3076 was introduced on June 20, 2016 by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and passed the Senate by unanimous consent on September 20, 2016.
S. 3076 authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide a casket or urn for a deceased veteran to be buried in a national veterans’ cemetery, state veterans’ cemetery, or tribal cemetery, if the deceased veteran does not have sufficient resources to cover to cost.
Under current law, indigent veterans with no next-of-kin are eligible to reimbursement rates of $2,421 for caskets or $244 for urns when buried in a National Cemetery. However, if the survivors of the veteran need to take advantage of that benefit, the veteran is not eligible for burial in a state cemetery, even if that cemetery is geographically closer to the veteran’s home or the homes of their loved ones. The Charles Duncan Veterans Memorial Act amends the Dignified Burial and other Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2012 by expanding its scope to include state or tribal cemeteries for which the Department of the VA has provided a grant.
According to the bill sponsor, “Charles Duncan and hundreds of veterans just like him bravely served our country in uniform. We should do everything in our power to ensure they receive the care and support they need, even in death. Specifically, this bill would allow veterans who could not otherwise afford services to be buried in the veteran cemetery closest to their family and loved ones. The bill is named for Mr. Charles Duncan of Little Rock, Arkansas, who died last year. Due to financial hardship, Mr. Duncan’s family had to rely on the VA for his casket and burial fees, but a small gap in the law meant he was only eligible for burial in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which is over 150 miles from his home. As a result, Mr. Duncan’s adult daughter was unable to attend his funeral.”
 See Rep. Tom Cotton Press Release, “Cotton Statement on Senate Passage of the Charles Duncan Buried with Honor Act,” September 20, 2016.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is currently not available.
For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.