Text: H.R.2297 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 108-183 (12/16/2003)

 
[108th Congress Public Law 183]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


[DOCID: f:publ183.108]

[[Page 117 STAT. 2651]]

Public Law 108-183
108th Congress

                                 An Act


 
 To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve benefits under laws 
    administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other 
            purposes. <<NOTE: Dec. 16, 2003 -  [H.R. 2297]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Veterans 
Benefits Act of 2003.>> 

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) Short <<NOTE: 38 USC 101 note.>> Title.--This Act may be cited 
as the ``Veterans Benefits Act of 2003''.

    (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents for this Act is as 
follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. References to title 38, United States Code.

                       TITLE I--SURVIVOR BENEFITS

Sec. 101. Retention of certain veterans survivor benefits for surviving 
           spouses remarrying after age 57.
Sec. 102. Benefits for children with spina bifida of veterans of certain 
           service in Korea.
Sec. 103. Alternative beneficiaries for National Service Life Insurance 
           and United States Government Life Insurance.
Sec. 104. Payment of benefits accrued and unpaid at time of death.

TITLE II--BENEFITS FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR AND FOR FILIPINO VETERANS

                   Subtitle A--Former Prisoners of War

Sec. 201. Presumptions of service-connection relating to diseases and 
           disabilities of former prisoners of war.

                      Subtitle B--Filipino Veterans

Sec. 211. Rate of payment of benefits for certain Filipino veterans and 
           their survivors residing in the United States.
Sec. 212. Burial benefits for new Philippine Scouts residing in the 
           United States.
Sec. 213. Extension of authority to maintain regional office in the 
           Republic of the Philippines.

   TITLE III--EDUCATION BENEFITS, EMPLOYMENT PROVISIONS, AND RELATED 
                                 MATTERS

Sec. 301. Expansion of Montgomery GI Bill education benefits for certain 
           self-employment training.
Sec. 302. Increase in rates of survivors' and dependents' educational 
           assistance.
Sec. 303. Restoration of survivors' and dependents' education benefits 
           of individuals being ordered to full-time National Guard 
           duty.
Sec. 304. Rounding down of certain cost-of-living adjustments on 
           educational assistance.
Sec. 305. Authorization for State approving agencies to approve certain 
           entrepreneurship courses.
Sec. 306. Repeal of provisions relating to obsolete education loan 
           program.
Sec. 307. Six-year extension of the Veterans' Advisory Committee on 
           Education.
Sec. 308. Procurement program for small business concerns owned and 
           controlled by service-disabled veterans.

[[Page 117 STAT. 2652]]

Sec. 309. Outstationing of Transition Assistance Program personnel.

             TITLE IV--HOUSING BENEFITS AND RELATED MATTERS

Sec. 401. Authorization to provide adapted housing assistance to certain 
           disabled members of the Armed Forces who remain on active 
           duty.
Sec. 402. Increase in amounts for certain adaptive benefits for disabled 
           veterans.
Sec. 403. Permanent authority for housing loans for members of the 
           Selected Reserve.
Sec. 404. Reinstatement of minimum requirements for sale of vendee 
           loans.
Sec. 405. Adjustment to home loan fees.
Sec. 406. One-year extension of procedures on liquidation sales of 
           defaulted home loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans 
           Affairs.

                        TITLE V--BURIAL BENEFITS

Sec. 501. Burial plot allowance.
Sec. 502. Eligibility of surviving spouses who remarry for burial in 
           national cemeteries.
Sec. 503. Permanent authority for State cemetery grants program.

               TITLE VI--EXPOSURE TO HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES

Sec. 601. Radiation Dose Reconstruction Program of Department of 
           Defense.
Sec. 602. Study on disposition of Air Force Health Study.
Sec. 603. Funding of Medical Follow-Up Agency of Institute of Medicine 
           of National Academy of Sciences for epidemiological research 
           on members of the Armed Forces and veterans.

                        TITLE VII--OTHER MATTERS

Sec. 701. Time limitations on receipt of claim information pursuant to 
           requests of Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sec. 702. Clarification of applicability of prohibition on assignment of 
           veterans benefits to agreements requiring payment of future 
           receipt of benefits.
Sec. 703. Six-year extension of Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans.
Sec. 704. Temporary authority for performance of medical disabilities 
           examinations by contract physicians.
Sec. 705. Forfeiture of benefits for subversive activities.
Sec. 706. Two-year extension of round-down requirement for compensation 
           cost-of-living adjustments.
Sec. 707. Codification of requirement for expeditious treatment of cases 
           on remand.
Sec. 708. Technical and clerical amendments.

SEC. 2. REFERENCES TO TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE.

    Except as otherwise expressly provided, whenever in this Act an 
amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment to, or repeal 
of, a section or other provision, the reference shall be considered to 
be made to a section or other provision of title 38, United States Code.

                       TITLE I--SURVIVOR BENEFITS

SEC. 101. RETENTION OF CERTAIN VETERANS SURVIVOR BENEFITS FOR SURVIVING 
            SPOUSES REMARRYING AFTER AGE 57.

    (a) Exception to Termination of Benefits Upon Remarriage.--Section 
103(d)(2)(B) <<NOTE: 38 USC 103.>>  is amended by striking ``The 
remarriage after age 55'' and inserting ``The remarriage after age 57 of 
the surviving spouse of a veteran shall not bar the furnishing of 
benefits specified in paragraph (5) to such person as the surviving 
spouse of the veteran. Notwithstanding the previous sentence, the 
remarriage after age 55''.

    (b) Coordination of Benefits.--Section 1311 is amended by adding at 
the end the following new subsection:
    ``(e) In the case of an individual who is eligible for dependency 
and indemnity compensation under this section by reason of section 
103(d)(2)(B) of this title who is also eligible for benefits under 
another provision of law by reason of such individual's status as

[[Page 117 STAT. 2653]]

the surviving spouse of a veteran, then, notwithstanding any other 
provision of law (other than section 5304(b)(3) of this title), no 
reduction in benefits under such other provision of law shall be made by 
reason of such individual's eligibility for benefits under this 
section.''.
    (c) Effective <<NOTE: 38 USC 103 note.>> Date.--The amendments made 
by subsections (a) and (b) shall take effect on January 1, 2004.

    (d) Retroactive <<NOTE: 38 USC 103 note.>> Benefits Prohibited.--No 
benefit may be paid to any person by reason of the amendments made by 
subsections (a) and (b) for any period before the effective date 
specified in subsection (c).

    (e) Application <<NOTE: Effective date. 38 USC 103 note.>> for 
Benefits.--In the case of an individual who but for having remarried 
would be eligible for benefits under title 38, United States Code, by 
reason of the amendment made by subsection (a) and whose remarriage was 
before the date of the enactment of this Act and after the individual 
had attained age 57, the individual shall be eligible for such benefits 
by reason of such amendment only if the individual submits an 
application for such benefits to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs not 
later than the end of the one-year period beginning on the date of the 
enactment of this Act.

    (f) Technical Correction.--Section 101(b) of the Veterans Benefits 
Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-330; 116 Stat. 2821; 38 U.S.C. 103 note) is 
amended by striking ``during the 1-year period'' and all that follows 
through ``(c)'' and inserting ``before the end of the one-year period 
beginning on the date of the enactment of the Veterans Benefits Act of 
2003''.

SEC. 102. BENEFITS FOR CHILDREN WITH SPINA BIFIDA OF VETERANS OF CERTAIN 
            SERVICE IN KOREA.

    (a) In General.--Chapter 18 is amended--
            (1) by redesignating subchapter III, and sections 1821, 
        1822, 1823, and 1824, as subchapter IV, and sections 1831, 1832, 
        1833, and 1834, respectively; and
            (2) by inserting after subchapter II the following new 
        subchapter III:

 ``SUBCHAPTER III--CHILDREN OF CERTAIN KOREA SERVICE VETERANS BORN WITH 
                              SPINA BIFIDA

``Sec. 1821. Benefits for children of certain Korea service veterans 
                        born with spina bifida

    ``(a) Benefits Authorized.--The Secretary may provide to any child 
of a veteran of covered service in Korea who is suffering from spina 
bifida the health care, vocational training and rehabilitation, and 
monetary allowance required to be paid to a child of a Vietnam veteran 
who is suffering from spina bifida under subchapter I of this chapter as 
if such child of a veteran of covered service in Korea were a child of a 
Vietnam veteran who is suffering from spina bifida under such 
subchapter.
    ``(b) Spina Bifida Conditions Covered.--This section applies with 
respect to all forms and manifestations of spina bifida, except spina 
bifida occulta.
    ``(c) Veteran of Covered Service in Korea.--For purposes of this 
section, a veteran of covered service in Korea is any individual, 
without regard to the characterization of that individual's service, 
who--

[[Page 117 STAT. 2654]]

            ``(1) served in the active military, naval, or air service 
        in or near the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ), as determined by 
        the Secretary in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, 
        during the period beginning on September 1, 1967, and ending on 
        August 31, 1971; and
            ``(2) is determined by the Secretary, in consultation with 
        the Secretary of Defense, to have been exposed to a herbicide 
        agent during such service in or near the Korean demilitarized 
        zone.

    ``(d) Herbicide Agent.--For purposes of this section, the term 
`herbicide agent' means a chemical in a herbicide used in support of 
United States and allied military operations in or near the Korean 
demilitarized zone, as determined by the Secretary in consultation with 
the Secretary of Defense, during the period beginning on September 1, 
1967, and ending on August 31, 1971.''.
    (b) Child Defined.--Section 1831, as redesignated by subsection (a) 
of this section, is amended by striking paragraph (1) and inserting the 
following new paragraph (1):
            ``(1) The term `child' means the following:
                    ``(A) For purposes of subchapters I and II of this 
                chapter, an individual, regardless of age or marital 
                status, who--
                          ``(i) is the natural child of a Vietnam 
                      veteran; and
                          ``(ii) was conceived after the date on which 
                      that veteran first entered the Republic of Vietnam 
                      during the Vietnam era.
                    ``(B) For purposes of subchapter III of this 
                chapter, an individual, regardless of age or marital 
                status, who--
                          ``(i) is the natural child of a veteran of 
                      covered service in Korea (as determined for 
                      purposes of section 1821 of this title); and
                          ``(ii) was conceived after the date on which 
                      that veteran first entered service described in 
                      subsection (c) of that section.''.

    (c) Nonduplication of Benefits.--Subsection (a) of section 1834, as 
redesignated by subsection (a) of this section, is amended by adding at 
the end the following new sentence: ``In the case of a child eligible 
for benefits under subchapter I or II of this chapter who is also 
eligible for benefits under subchapter III of this chapter, a monetary 
allowance shall be paid under the subchapter of this chapter elected by 
the child.''.
    (d) Conforming Amendments.--(1) Section 1811(1)(A) is amended by 
striking ``section 1821(1)'' and inserting ``section 1831(1)''.
    (2) The heading for chapter 18 is amended to read as follows:

  ``CHAPTER 18--BENEFITS FOR CHILDREN OF VIETNAM VETERANS AND CERTAIN 
                            OTHER VETERANS''.

    (e) Clerical Amendments.--(1) The table of sections at the beginning 
of chapter 18 is amended by striking the items relating to subchapter 
III and sections 1821, 1822, 1823, and 1824 and inserting the following 
new items:

 ``SUBCHAPTER III--CHILDREN OF CERTAIN KOREA SERVICE VETERANS BORN WITH 
                              SPINA BIFIDA

``1821. Benefits for children of certain Korea service veterans born 
           with spina bifida.

[[Page 117 STAT. 2655]]

                   ``SUBCHAPTER IV--GENERAL PROVISIONS

``1831. Definitions.
``1832. Applicability of certain administrative provisions.
``1833. Treatment of receipt of monetary allowance and other benefits.
``1834. Nonduplication of benefits.''.

    (2) The table of chapters at the beginning of title 38, United 
States Code, and at the beginning of part II, are each amended by 
striking the item relating to chapter 18 and inserting the following new 
item:

``18. Benefits for Children of Vietnam Veterans and Certain Other 
Veterans.........................................................1802''.

SEC. 103. ALTERNATIVE BENEFICIARIES FOR NATIONAL SERVICE LIFE INSURANCE 
            AND UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT LIFE INSURANCE.

    (a) National Service Life Insurance.--Section 1917 is amended by 
adding at the end the following new subsection:
    ``(f)(1) Following the death of the insured and in a case not 
covered by subsection (d)--
            ``(A) if the first beneficiary otherwise entitled to payment 
        of the insurance does not make a claim for such payment within 
        two years after the death of the insured, payment may be made to 
        another beneficiary designated by the insured, in the order of 
        precedence as designated by the insured, as if the first 
        beneficiary had predeceased the insured; and
            ``(B) <<NOTE: Deadline.>> if, within four years after the 
        death of the insured, no claim has been filed by a person 
        designated by the insured as a beneficiary and the Secretary has 
        not received any notice in writing that any such claim will be 
        made, payment may (notwithstanding any other provision of law) 
        be made to such person as may in the judgment of the Secretary 
        be equitably entitled thereto.

    ``(2) Payment of insurance under paragraph (1) shall be a bar to 
recovery by any other person.''.
    (b) United States Government Life Insurance.--Section 1952 is 
amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
    ``(c)(1) Following the death of the insured and in a case not 
covered by section 1950 of this title--
            ``(A) if the first beneficiary otherwise entitled to payment 
        of the insurance does not make a claim for such payment within 
        two years after the death of the insured, payment may be made to 
        another beneficiary designated by the insured, in the order of 
        precedence as designated by the insured, as if the first 
        beneficiary had predeceased the insured; and
            ``(B) if, within four years after the death of the insured, 
        no claim has been filed by a person designated by the insured as 
        a beneficiary and the Secretary has not received any notice in 
        writing that any such claim will be made, payment may 
        (notwithstanding any other provision of law) be made to such 
        person as may in the judgment of the Secretary be equitably 
        entitled thereto.

    ``(2) Payment of insurance under paragraph (1) shall be a bar to 
recovery by any other person.''.
    (c) Effective <<NOTE: 38 USC 1917 note.>> Date.--The amendments made 
by subsections (a) and (b) shall take effect on October 1, 2004.

    (d) Transition <<NOTE: 38 USC 1917 note.>> Provision.--In the case 
of a person insured under subchapter I or II of chapter 19 of title 38, 
United States Code, who dies before the effective date of the amendments 
made

[[Page 117 STAT. 2656]]

by subsections (a) and (b), as specified by subsection (c), the two-year 
and four-year periods specified in subsection (f)(1) of section 1917 of 
title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a), and subsection 
(c)(1) of section 1952 of such title, as added by subsection (b), as 
applicable, shall for purposes of the applicable subsection be treated 
as being the two-year and four-year periods, respectively, beginning on 
the effective date of such amendments, as so specified.

SEC. 104. PAYMENT OF BENEFITS ACCRUED AND UNPAID AT TIME OF DEATH.

    (a) Repeal of Two-Year Limitation on Payment.--Section 5121(a) is 
amended by striking ``for a period not to exceed two years'' in the 
matter preceding paragraph (1).
    (b) Payment Recipients for Beneficiaries Under Chapter 18.--Such 
section is further amended--
            (1) by striking ``and'' at the end of paragraph (4);
            (2) by redesignating paragraph (5) as paragraph (6); and
            (3) by inserting after paragraph (4) the following new 
        paragraph (5):
            ``(5) Upon the death of a child claiming benefits under 
        chapter 18 of this title, to the surviving parents.''.

    (c) Technical Amendments.--Such section is further amended--
            (1) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking the 
        comma after ``or decisions'';
            (2) by striking the semicolon at the end of paragraphs (1), 
        (2), (3), and (4), and at the end of subparagraphs (A) and (B) 
        of paragraph (2), and inserting a period.

    (d) Effective <<NOTE: Applicability. 38 USC 5121 note.>> Date.--The 
amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall apply with respect to 
deaths occurring on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

TITLE II--BENEFITS FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR AND FOR FILIPINO VETERANS

                   Subtitle A--Former Prisoners of War

SEC. 201. PRESUMPTIONS OF SERVICE-CONNECTION RELATING TO DISEASES AND 
            DISABILITIES OF FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR.

    Subsection (b) of section 1112 is amended to read as follows:
    ``(b)(1) For the purposes of section 1110 of this title and subject 
to the provisions of section 1113 of this title, in the case of a 
veteran who is a former prisoner of war--
            ``(A) a disease specified in paragraph (2) which became 
        manifest to a degree of 10 percent or more after active 
        military, naval, or air service shall be considered to have been 
        incurred in or aggravated by such service, notwithstanding that 
        there is no record of such disease during the period of service; 
        and
            ``(B) if the veteran was detained or interned as a prisoner 
        of war for not less than thirty days, a disease specified in 
        paragraph (3) which became manifest to a degree of 10 percent or 
        more after active military, naval, or air service shall be

[[Page 117 STAT. 2657]]

        considered to have been incurred in or aggravated by such 
        service, notwithstanding that there is no record of such disease 
        during the period of service.

    ``(2) The diseases specified in this paragraph are the following:
            ``(A) Psychosis.
            ``(B) Any of the anxiety states.
            ``(C) Dysthymic disorder (or depressive neurosis).
            ``(D) Organic residuals of frostbite, if the Secretary 
        determines that the veteran was detained or interned in climatic 
        conditions consistent with the occurrence of frostbite.
            ``(E) Post-traumatic osteoarthritis.

    ``(3) The diseases specified in this paragraph are the following:
            ``(A) Avitaminosis.
            ``(B) Beriberi (including beriberi heart disease).
            ``(C) Chronic dysentery.
            ``(D) Helminthiasis.
            ``(E) Malnutrition (including optic atrophy associated with 
        malnutrition).
            ``(F) Pellagra.
            ``(G) Any other nutritional deficiency.
            ``(H) Cirrhosis of the liver.
            ``(I) Peripheral neuropathy except where directly related to 
        infectious causes.
            ``(J) Irritable bowel syndrome.
            ``(K) Peptic ulcer disease.''.

                      Subtitle B--Filipino Veterans

SEC. 211. RATE OF PAYMENT OF BENEFITS FOR CERTAIN FILIPINO VETERANS AND 
            THEIR SURVIVORS RESIDING IN THE UNITED STATES.

    (a) Rate of Payment.--Section 107 is amended--
            (1) in the second sentence of subsection (b), by striking 
        ``Payments'' and inserting ``Except as provided in subsection 
        (c), payments''; and
            (2) in subsection (c)--
                    (A) by inserting ``and subchapter II of chapter 13 
                (except section 1312(a)) of this title'' after ``chapter 
                11 of this title'';
                    (B) by striking ``in subsection (a)'' and inserting 
                ``in subsection (a) or (b)''; and
                    (C) by striking ``of subsection (a)'' and inserting 
                ``of the applicable subsection''.

    (b) Effective <<NOTE: Applicability. 38 USC 107 note.>> Date.--The 
amendments made by subsection (a) shall apply to benefits paid for 
months beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 212. BURIAL BENEFITS FOR NEW PHILIPPINE SCOUTS RESIDING IN THE 
            UNITED STATES.

    (a) Benefit Eligibility.--Section 107, as amended by section 211 of 
this Act, is amended--
            (1) in subsection (b)(2)--
                    (A) by striking ``and'' and inserting a comma; and
                    (B) by inserting ``, 23, and 24 (to the extent 
                provided for in section 2402(8))'' after ``(except 
                section 1312(a))'';

[[Page 117 STAT. 2658]]

            (2) in the second sentence of subsection (b), as so amended, 
        by inserting ``or (d)'' after ``subsection (c)'';
            (3) in subsection (d)(1), by inserting ``or (b), as 
        otherwise applicable,'' after ``subsection (a)''; and
            (4) in subsection (d)(2), by inserting ``or whose service is 
        described in subsection (b) and who dies after the date of the 
        enactment of the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003,'' after 
        ``November 1, 2000,''.

    (b) National Cemetery Interment.--Section 2402(8) is amended by 
striking ``section 107(a)'' and inserting ``subsection (a) or (b) of 
section 107''.
    (c) Effective <<NOTE: Applicability. 38 USC 107 note.>> Date.--The 
amendments made by this section shall apply with respect to deaths 
occurring on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 213. EXTENSION OF AUTHORITY TO MAINTAIN REGIONAL OFFICE IN THE 
            REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES.

    Section 315(b) is amended by striking ``December 31, 2003'' and 
inserting ``December 31, 2009''.

   TITLE III--EDUCATION BENEFITS, EMPLOYMENT PROVISIONS, AND RELATED 
                                 MATTERS

SEC. 301. EXPANSION OF MONTGOMERY GI BILL EDUCATION BENEFITS FOR CERTAIN 
            SELF-EMPLOYMENT TRAINING.

     (a) Definition of Training Establishment.--Section 3452(e) is 
amended by striking ``means any'' and all that follows and inserting 
``means any of the following:
            ``(1) An establishment providing apprentice or other on-job 
        training, including those under the supervision of a college or 
        university or any State department of education.
            ``(2) An establishment providing self-employment on-job 
        training consisting of full-time training for a period of less 
        than six months that is needed or accepted for purposes of 
        obtaining licensure to engage in a self-employment occupation or 
        required for ownership and operation of a franchise that is the 
        objective of the training.
            ``(3) A State board of vocational education.
            ``(4) A Federal or State apprenticeship registration agency.
            ``(5) A joint apprenticeship committee established pursuant 
        to the Act of August 16, 1937, popularly known as the `National 
        Apprenticeship Act' (29 U.S.C. 50 et seq.).
            ``(6) An agency of the Federal Government authorized to 
        supervise such training.''.

    (b) Effective <<NOTE: Applicability. 38 USC 3452 note.>> Date.--The 
amendment made by subsection (a) shall take effect on the date that is 
six months after the date of the enactment of this Act and shall apply 
to self-employment on-job training approved and pursued on or after that 
date.

SEC. 302. INCREASE IN RATES OF SURVIVORS' AND DEPENDENTS' EDUCATIONAL 
            ASSISTANCE.

    (a) Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance.--Section 3532 
is amended--
            (1) in subsection (a)--

[[Page 117 STAT. 2659]]

                    (A) in paragraph (1), by striking ``at the monthly 
                rate of'' and all that follows and inserting ``at the 
                monthly rate of $788 for full-time, $592 for three-
                quarter-time, or $394 for half-time pursuit.''; and
                    (B) in paragraph (2), by striking ``at the rate of'' 
                and all that follows and inserting ``at the rate of the 
                lesser of--
            ``(A) the established charges for tuition and fees that the 
        educational institution involved requires similarly 
        circumstanced nonveterans enrolled in the same program to pay; 
        or
            ``(B) $788 per month for a full-time course.'';
            (2) in subsection (b), by striking ``$670'' and inserting 
        ``$788''; and
            (3) in subsection (c)(2), by striking ``shall be'' and all 
        that follows and inserting ``shall be $636 for full-time, $477 
        for three-quarter-time, or $319 for half-time pursuit.''.

    (b) Correspondence Courses.--Section 3534(b) is amended by striking 
``$670'' and inserting ``$788''.
    (c) Special Restorative Training.--Section 3542(a) is amended--
            (1) by striking ``$670'' and inserting ``$788''; and
            (2) by striking ``$210'' each place it appears and inserting 
        ``$247''.

    (d) Apprenticeship Training.--Section 3687(b)(2) is amended by 
striking ``shall be $488 for the first six months'' and all that follows 
and inserting ``shall be $574 for the first six months, $429 for the 
second six months, $285 for the third six months, and $144 for the 
fourth and any succeeding six-month period of training.''.
    (e) Effective <<NOTE: Applicability. 38 USC 3532 note.>> Date.--The 
amendments made by this section shall take effect on July 1, 2004, and 
shall apply with respect to educational assistance allowances payable 
under chapter 35 and section 3687(b)(2) of title 38, United States Code, 
for months beginning on or after that date.

SEC. 303. RESTORATION OF SURVIVORS' AND DEPENDENTS' EDUCATION BENEFITS 
            OF INDIVIDUALS BEING ORDERED TO FULL-TIME NATIONAL GUARD 
            DUTY.

    (a) Delimiting Date.--Section 3512(h) is amended by inserting ``or 
is involuntarily ordered to full-time National Guard duty under section 
502(f) of title 32,'' after ``title 10,''.
    (b) Effective <<NOTE: 38 USC 3512 note.>> Date.--The amendment made 
by subsection (a) shall take effect as of September 11, 2001.

SEC. 304. ROUNDING DOWN OF CERTAIN COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS ON 
            EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE.

    (a) Basic Educational Assistance Under Montgomery GI Bill.--Section 
3015(h) is amended--
            (1) by redesignating paragraphs (1) and (2) as subparagraphs 
        (A) and (B), respectively;
            (2) by inserting ``(1)'' after ``(h)'';
            (3) by striking ``(rounded to the nearest dollar)'';
            (4) in subparagraph (B), as so redesignated, by striking 
        ``paragraph (1)'' and inserting ``subparagraph (A)''; and
            (5) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

    ``(2) Any increase under paragraph (1) in a rate with respect to a 
fiscal year after fiscal year 2004 and before fiscal year 2014

[[Page 117 STAT. 2660]]

shall be rounded down to the next lower whole dollar amount. Any such 
increase with respect to a fiscal year after fiscal year 2013 shall be 
rounded to the nearest whole dollar amount.''.
    (b) Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance.--Section 3564 
is amended--
            (1) by inserting ``(a)'' before ``With'';
            (2) by striking ``(rounded to the nearest dollar)''; and
            (3) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

    ``(b) Any increase under subsection (a) in a rate with respect to a 
fiscal year after fiscal year 2004 and before fiscal year 2014 shall be 
rounded down to the next lower whole dollar amount. Any such increase 
with respect to a fiscal year after fiscal year 2013 shall be rounded to 
the nearest whole dollar amount.''.

SEC. 305. AUTHORIZATION FOR STATE APPROVING AGENCIES TO APPROVE CERTAIN 
            ENTREPRENEURSHIP COURSES.

    (a) Approval of Entrepreneurship Courses.--Section 3675 is amended 
by adding at the end the following new subsection:
    ``(c)(1) A State approving agency may approve the entrepreneurship 
courses offered by a qualified provider of entrepreneurship courses.
    ``(2) For purposes of this subsection, the term `entrepreneurship 
course' means a non-degree, non-credit course of business education that 
enables or assists a person to start or enhance a small business concern 
(as defined pursuant to section 3(a) of the Small Business Act (15 
U.S.C. 632(a))).
    ``(3) Subsection (a) and paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection (b) 
shall not apply to--
            ``(A) an entrepreneurship course offered by a qualified 
        provider of entrepreneurship courses; and
            ``(B) a qualified provider of entrepreneurship courses by 
        reason of such provider offering one or more entrepreneurship 
        courses.''.

    (b) Business Owners Not Treated as Already Qualified.--Section 3471 
is amended by inserting before the last sentence the following: ``The 
Secretary shall not treat a person as already qualified for the 
objective of a program of education offered by a qualified provider of 
entrepreneurship courses solely because such person is the owner or 
operator of a business.''.
    (c) Inclusion of Entrepreneurship Courses in Definition of Program 
of Education.--Subsection (b) of section 3452 is amended by adding at 
the end the following: ``Such term also includes any course, or 
combination of courses, offered by a qualified provider of 
entrepreneurship courses.''.
    (d) Inclusion of Qualified Provider of Entrepreneurship Courses in 
Definition of Educational Institution.--Subsection (c) of section 3452 
is amended by adding at the end the following: ``Such term also includes 
any qualified provider of entrepreneurship courses.''.
    (e) Definition of Qualified Provider of Entrepreneurship Courses.--
Section 3452 is further amended by adding at the end the following new 
subsection:
    ``(h) The term `qualified provider of entrepreneurship courses' 
means any of the following entities insofar as such entity offers, 
sponsors, or cosponsors an entrepreneurship course (as defined in 
section 3675(c)(2) of this title):

[[Page 117 STAT. 2661]]

            ``(1) Any small business development center described in 
        section 21 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 648).
            ``(2) The National Veterans Business Development Corporation 
        (established under section 33 of the Small Business Act (15 
        U.S.C. 657c)).''.

    (f) Effective <<NOTE: Applicability. 38 USC 3452 note.>> Date.--The 
amendments made by this section shall apply to courses approved by State 
approving agencies after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 306. REPEAL OF PROVISIONS RELATING TO OBSOLETE EDUCATION LOAN 
            PROGRAM.

    (a) Termination <<NOTE: 38 USC 3698 note.>> of Program.--The 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs may not make a loan under subchapter III 
of chapter 36 of title 38, United States Code, after the date of the 
enactment of this Act.

    (b) Discharge <<NOTE: Effective date. 38 USC 3698 note.>> of 
Liabilities.--Effective as of the date of the transfer of funds under 
subsection (c)--
            (1) any liability on an education loan under subchapter III 
        of chapter 36 of title 38, United States Code, that is 
        outstanding as of such date shall be deemed discharged; and
            (2) the right of the United States to recover an overpayment 
        declared under section 3698(e)(1) of such title that is 
        outstanding as of such date shall be deemed waived.

    (c) Termination of Loan Fund.--(1) Effective as of the day before 
the date of the repeal under this section of subchapter III of chapter 
36 of title 38, United States Code, all monies in the revolving fund of 
the Treasury known as the ``Department of Veterans Affairs Education 
Loan Fund'' shall be transferred to the Department of Veterans Affairs 
Readjustment Benefits Account, and the revolving fund shall be closed.
    (2) Any monies transferred to the Department of Veterans Affairs 
Readjustment Benefits Account under paragraph (1) shall be merged with 
amounts in that account and shall be available for the same purposes, 
and subject to the same conditions and limitations, as amounts in that 
account.
    (d) Use of Entitlement to Veterans Educational Assistance for 
Education Loan Program.--Section 3462(a) is amended by striking 
paragraph (2).
    (e) Repeal of <<NOTE: 38 USC 3698, 3699.>> Education Loan Program.--
Subchapter III of chapter 36 is repealed.

    (f) Conforming Amendments.--(1) Section 3485(e)(1) is amended by 
striking ``(other than an education loan under subchapter III)''.
    (2) Section 3512 is amended by striking subsection (f).
    (g) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
chapter 36 is amended by striking the items relating to subchapter III 
and sections 3698 and 3699.
    (h) Effective <<NOTE: 38 USC 3462 note.>> Dates.--(1) The amendments 
made by subsection (d) shall take effect on the date of the enactment of 
this Act.

    (2) <<NOTE: 38 USC 3485 note.>> The amendments made by subsections 
(e), (f), and (g) shall take effect 90 days after the date of the 
enactment of this Act.

SEC. 307. SIX-YEAR EXTENSION OF THE VETERANS' ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON 
            EDUCATION.

    (a) Membership.--Subsection (a) of section 3692 is amended in the 
second sentence by inserting ``, to the maximum extent practicable,'' 
after ``The committee shall also''.

[[Page 117 STAT. 2662]]

    (b) Extension.--Subsection (c) of that section is amended by 
striking ``December 31, 2003'' and inserting ``December 31, 2009''.
    (c) Technical Amendments.--That section is further amended--
            (1) in subsections (a) and (b), by striking ``chapter 106'' 
        each place it appears and inserting ``chapter 1606''; and
            (2) in subsection (b), by striking ``chapter 30'' and 
        inserting ``chapters 30''.

SEC. 308. PROCUREMENT PROGRAM FOR SMALL BUSINESS CONCERNS OWNED AND 
            CONTROLLED BY SERVICE-DISABLED VETERANS.

    The Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 631 et seq.) is amended by 
redesignating section 36 <<NOTE: 15 USC 631 note.>>  as section 37 and 
by inserting after section 35 the following new section:

``SEC. 36. <<NOTE: 15 USC 657f.>> PROCUREMENT PROGRAM FOR SMALL BUSINESS 
            CONCERNS OWNED AND CONTROLLED BY SERVICE-DISABLED VETERANS.

    ``(a) Sole Source Contracts.--In accordance with this section, a 
contracting officer may award a sole source contract to any small 
business concern owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans if--
            ``(1) such concern is determined to be a responsible 
        contractor with respect to performance of such contract 
        opportunity and the contracting officer does not have a 
        reasonable expectation that 2 or more small business concerns 
        owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans will submit 
        offers for the contracting opportunity;
            ``(2) the anticipated award price of the contract (including 
        options) will not exceed--
                    ``(A) $5,000,000, in the case of a contract 
                opportunity assigned a standard industrial 
                classification code for manufacturing; or
                    ``(B) $3,000,000, in the case of any other contract 
                opportunity; and
            ``(3) in the estimation of the contracting officer, the 
        contract award can be made at a fair and reasonable price.

    ``(b) Restricted Competition.--In accordance with this section, a 
contracting officer may award contracts on the basis of competition 
restricted to small business concerns owned and controlled by service-
disabled veterans if the contracting officer has a reasonable 
expectation that not less than 2 small business concerns owned and 
controlled by service-disabled veterans will submit offers and that the 
award can be made at a fair market price.
    ``(c) Relationship to Other Contracting Preferences.--A procurement 
may not be made from a source on the basis of a preference provided 
under subsection (a) or (b) if the procurement would otherwise be made 
from a different source under section 4124 or 4125 of title 18, United 
States Code, or the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act (41 U.S.C. 46 et seq.).
    ``(d) Enforcement; <<NOTE: Applicability.>> Penalties.--Rules 
similar to the rules of paragraphs (5) and (6) of section 8(m) shall 
apply for purposes of this section.

    ``(e) Contracting Officer.--For purposes of this section, the term 
`contracting officer' has the meaning given such term in section 
27(f)(5) of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act (41 U.S.C. 
423(f)(5)).''.

[[Page 117 STAT. 2663]]

SEC. 309. OUTSTATIONING OF TRANSITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM PERSONNEL.

    (a) In General.--(1) Chapter 41 is amended by adding at the end the 
following new section:

``Sec. 4113. Outstationing of Transition Assistance Program personnel

    ``(a) Stationing of TAP Personnel at Overseas Military 
Installations.--(1) The Secretary--
            ``(A) shall station employees of the Veterans' Employment 
        and Training Service, or contractors under subsection (c), at 
        each veterans assistance office described in paragraph (2); and
            ``(B) may station such employees or contractors at such 
        other military installations outside the United States as the 
        Secretary, after consultation with the Secretary of Defense, 
        determines to be appropriate or desirable to carry out the 
        purposes of this chapter.

    ``(2) Veterans assistance offices referred to in paragraph (1)(A) 
are those offices that are established by the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs on military installations pursuant to the second sentence of 
section 7723(a) of this title.
    ``(b) Functions.--Employees (or contractors) stationed at military 
installations pursuant to subsection (a) shall provide, in person, 
counseling, assistance in identifying employment and training 
opportunities, help in obtaining such employment and training, and other 
related information and services to members of the Armed Forces who are 
being separated from active duty, and the spouses of such members, under 
the Transition Assistance Program and Disabled Transition Assistance 
Program established in section 1144 of title 10.
    ``(c) Authority To Contract With Private Entities.--The Secretary, 
consistent with section 1144 of title 10, may enter into contracts with 
public or private entities to provide, in person, some or all of the 
counseling, assistance, information and services under the Transition 
Assistance Program required under subsection (a).''.
    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is 
amended by adding at the end the following new item:

``4113. Outstationing of Transition Assistance Program personnel.''.

    (b) Deadline <<NOTE: 38 USC 4113 note.>> for Implementation.--Not 
later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the 
Secretary of Labor shall implement section 4113 of title 38, United 
States Code, as added by subsection (a), and shall have employees of the 
Veterans' Employment and Training Service, or contractors, to carry out 
that section at the military installations involved by such date.

    (c) Additional Amendment.--(1) The second sentence of section 
7723(a) is amended by inserting ``and taking into account 
recommendations, if any, of the Secretary of Labor'' after ``Secretary 
of Defense''.
    (2) The <<NOTE: Applicability. 38 USC 7723 note.>> amendment made by 
paragraph (1) shall apply with respect to offices established after the 
date of the enactment of this Act.

[[Page 117 STAT. 2664]]

             TITLE IV--HOUSING BENEFITS AND RELATED MATTERS

SEC. 401. AUTHORIZATION TO PROVIDE ADAPTED HOUSING ASSISTANCE TO CERTAIN 
            DISABLED MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES WHO REMAIN ON ACTIVE 
            DUTY.

    Section 2101 is amended by adding at the end the following new 
subsection:
    ``(c)(1) The Secretary may provide assistance under subsection (a) 
to a member of the Armed Forces serving on active duty who is suffering 
from a disability described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of that 
subsection if such disability is the result of an injury incurred or 
disease contracted in or aggravated in line of duty in the active 
military, naval, or air service. Such assistance shall be provided to 
the same extent as assistance is provided under that subsection to 
veterans eligible for assistance under that subsection and subject to 
the requirements of the second sentence of that subsection.
    ``(2) The Secretary may provide assistance under subsection (b) to a 
member of the Armed Forces serving on active duty who is suffering from 
a disability described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) of 
that subsection if such disability is the result of an injury incurred 
or disease contracted in or aggravated in line of duty in the active 
military, naval, or air service. Such assistance shall be provided to 
the same extent as assistance is provided under that subsection to 
veterans eligible for assistance under that subsection and subject to 
the requirements of paragraph (2) of that subsection.''.

SEC. 402. INCREASE IN AMOUNTS FOR CERTAIN ADAPTIVE BENEFITS FOR DISABLED 
            VETERANS.

    (a) Increase in Assistance Amount for Specially Adapted Housing.--
Section 2102 is amended--
            (1) in the matter preceding paragraph (1) of subsection (a), 
        by striking ``$48,000'' and inserting ``$50,000''; and
            (2) in subsection (b)(2), by striking ``$9,250'' and 
        inserting ``$10,000''.

    (b) Increase in Amount of Assistance for Automobile and Adaptive 
Equipment for Certain Disabled Veterans.--Section 3902(a) is amended by 
striking ``$9,000'' and inserting ``$11,000''.
    (c) Effective <<NOTE: Applicability. 38 USC 2102 note.>> Date.--The 
amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall apply with respect to 
assistance furnished on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 403. PERMANENT AUTHORITY FOR HOUSING LOANS FOR MEMBERS OF THE 
            SELECTED RESERVE.

    Section 3702(a)(2)(E) is amended by striking ``For the period'' and 
all that follows through ``each'' and inserting ``Each''.

SEC. 404. REINSTATEMENT OF MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR SALE OF VENDEE 
            LOANS.

    (a) Reinstatement.--Subsection (a) of section 3733 is amended by 
adding at the end the following new paragraph:
    ``(7) During the period that begins on the date of the enactment of 
the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2003 and ends on September 30,

[[Page 117 STAT. 2665]]

2013, the Secretary shall carry out the provisions of this subsection as 
if--
            ``(A) the references in the first sentence of paragraph (1) 
        to `65 percent' and `may be financed' were references to `85 
        percent' and `shall be financed', respectively;
            ``(B) the second sentence of paragraph (1) were repealed; 
        and
            ``(C) the reference in paragraph (2) to `September 30, 
        1990,' were a reference to `September 30, 2013,'.''.

    (b) Stylistic Amendments.--Such section is further amended--
            (1) by striking ``of this subsection'' after--
                    (A) ``paragraph (1)'' in subsections (a)(4)(A), 
                (a)(5), (a)(6), and (c)(2); and
                    (B) ``paragraph (5)'' in subsection (a)(4)(B)(i); 
                and
            (2) by striking ``of this paragraph'' each place it appears 
        in subsection (a)(4).

SEC. 405. <<NOTE: Effective date.>> ADJUSTMENT TO HOME LOAN FEES.

    Effective January 1, 2004, paragraph (2) of section 3729(b) is 
amended to read as follows:
    ``(2) The loan fee table referred to in paragraph (1) is as follows:

                            ``LOAN FEE TABLE
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Active duty                    Other
         Type of loan              veteran      Reservist      obligor
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(A)(i) Initial loan described          2.00          2.75            NA
 in section 3710(a) to
 purchase or construct a
 dwelling with 0-down, or any
 other initial loan described
 in section 3710(a) other than
 with 5-down or 10-down
 (closed before January 1,
 2004)........................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(A)(ii) Initial loan described         2.20          2.40            NA
 in section 3710(a) to
 purchase or construct a
 dwelling with 0-down, or any
 other initial loan described
 in section 3710(a) other than
 with 5-down or 10-down
 (closed on or after January
 1, 2004, and before October
 1, 2004).....................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(A)(iii) Initial loan                  2.15          2.40            NA
 described in section 3710(a)
 to purchase or construct a
 dwelling with 0-down, or any
 other initial loan described
 in section 3710(a) other than
 with 5-down or 10-down
 (closed on or after October
 1, 2004, and before October
 1, 2011).....................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(A)(iv) Initial loan described         1.40          1.65            NA
 in section 3710(a) to
 purchase or construct a
 dwelling with 0-down, or any
 other initial loan described
 in section 3710(a) other than
 with 5-down or 10-down
 (closed on or after October
 1, 2011).....................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(B)(i) Subsequent loan                 3.00          3.00            NA
 described in section 3710(a)
 to purchase or construct a
 dwelling with 0-down, or any
 other subsequent loan
 described in section 3710(a)
 (closed before January 1,
 2004)........................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(B)(ii) Subsequent loan                3.30          3.30            NA
 described in section 3710(a)
 to purchase or construct a
 dwelling with 0-down, or any
 other subsequent loan
 described in section 3710(a)
 (closed on or after January
 1, 2004, and before October
 1, 2011).....................
------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 117 STAT. 2666]]

 
(B)(iii) Subsequent loan               2.15          2.15            NA
 described in section 3710(a)
 to purchase or construct a
 dwelling with 0-down, or any
 other subsequent loan
 described in section 3710(a)
 (closed on or after October
 1, 2011 and before October 1,
 2013)........................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(B)(iv) Subsequent loan                1.25          1.25            NA
 described in section 3710(a)
 to purchase or construct a
 dwelling with 0-down, or any
 other subsequent loan
 described in section 3710(a)
 (closed on or after October
 1, 2013).....................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(C)(i) Loan described in               1.50          1.75            NA
 section 3710(a) to purchase
 or construct a dwelling with
 5-down (closed before October
 1, 2011).....................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(C)(ii) Loan described in              0.75          1.00            NA
 section 3710(a) to purchase
 or construct a dwelling with
 5-down (closed on or after
 October 1, 2011).............
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(D)(i) Initial loan described          1.25          1.50            NA
 in section 3710(a) to
 purchase or construct a
 dwelling with 10-down (closed
 before October 1, 2011)......
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(D)(ii) Initial loan described         0.50          0.75            NA
 in section 3710(a) to
 purchase or construct a
 dwelling with 10-down (closed
 on or after October 1, 2011).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(E) Interest rate reduction            0.50          0.50            NA
 refinancing loan.............
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(F) Direct loan under section          1.00          1.00            NA
 3711.........................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(G) Manufactured home loan             1.00          1.00            NA
 under section 3712 (other
 than an interest rate
 reduction refinancing loan)..
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(H) Loan to Native American            1.25          1.25            NA
 veteran under section 3762
 (other than an interest rate
 reduction refinancing loan)..
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(I) Loan assumption under              0.50          0.50          0.50
 section 3714.................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(J) Loan under section 3733(a)         2.25          2.25       2.25''.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


SEC. 406. ONE-YEAR EXTENSION OF PROCEDURES ON LIQUIDATION SALES OF 
            DEFAULTED HOME LOANS GUARANTEED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF 
            VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    Section 3732(c)(11) is amended by striking ``October 1, 2011'' and 
inserting ``October 1, 2012''.

                        TITLE V--BURIAL BENEFITS

SEC. 501. BURIAL PLOT ALLOWANCE.

    (a) In General.--Section 2303(b) is amended--
            (1) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking ``a 
        burial allowance under such section 2302, or under such 
        subsection, who was discharged from the active military, naval, 
        or air service for a disability incurred or aggravated in line 
        of duty, or who is a veteran of any war'' and inserting ``burial 
        in a national cemetery under section 2402 of this title''; and
            (2) in paragraph (2), by striking ``(other than a veteran 
        whose eligibility for benefits under this subsection is based

[[Page 117 STAT. 2667]]

        on being a veteran of any war)'' and inserting ``is eligible for 
        a burial allowance under section 2302 of this title or under 
        subsection (a) of this section, or was discharged from the 
        active military, naval, or air service for a disability incurred 
        or aggravated in line of duty, and such veteran''.

    (b) Conforming Amendment.--Section 2307 is amended in the last 
sentence by striking ``and (b)'' and inserting ``and (b)(2)''.

SEC. 502. ELIGIBILITY OF SURVIVING SPOUSES WHO REMARRY FOR BURIAL IN 
            NATIONAL CEMETERIES.

    (a) Eligibility.--Section 2402(5) is amended by striking ``(which 
for purposes of this chapter includes an unremarried surviving spouse 
who had a subsequent remarriage which was terminated by death or 
divorce)'' and inserting ``(which for purposes of this chapter includes 
a surviving spouse who had a subsequent remarriage)''.
    (b) Effective <<NOTE: Applicability. 38 USC 2402 note.>> Date.--The 
amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to deaths 
occurring on or after January 1, 2000.

SEC. 503. PERMANENT AUTHORITY FOR STATE CEMETERY GRANTS PROGRAM.

    (a) Permanent Authority.--Subsection (a) of section 2408 is 
amended--
            (1) by striking ``(1)''; and
            (2) by striking paragraph (2).

    (b) Conforming Amendment.--Subsection (e) of such section is amended 
by striking ``Sums appropriated under subsection (a) of this section'' 
and inserting ``Amounts appropriated to carry out this section''.
    (c) Technical Amendment To Repeal Obsolete Provision.--Subsection 
(d)(1) of such section is amended by striking ``on or after November 21, 
1997,''.

               TITLE VI--EXPOSURE TO HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES

SEC. 601. <<NOTE: 38 USC 1154 note.>> RADIATION DOSE RECONSTRUCTION 
            PROGRAM OF DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE.

    (a) Review of Mission, Procedures, and Administration.--(1) The 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense shall jointly 
conduct a review of the mission, procedures, and administration of the 
Radiation Dose Reconstruction Program of the Department of Defense.
    (2) In conducting the review under paragraph (1), the Secretaries 
shall--
            (A) determine whether any additional actions are required to 
        ensure that the quality assurance and quality control mechanisms 
        of the Radiation Dose Reconstruction Program are adequate and 
        sufficient for purposes of the program; and
            (B) determine the actions that are required to ensure that 
        the mechanisms of the Radiation Dose Reconstruction Program for 
        communication and interaction with veterans are adequate and 
        sufficient for purposes of the program, including mechanisms to 
        permit veterans to review the assumptions utilized in their dose 
        reconstructions.

[[Page 117 STAT. 2668]]

    (3) <<NOTE: Deadline. Reports.>> Not later than 90 days after the 
date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretaries shall jointly submit 
to Congress a report on the review under paragraph (1). The report shall 
set forth--
            (A) the results of the review;
            (B) a plan for any actions determined to be required under 
        paragraph (2); and
            (C) such other recommendations for the improvement of the 
        mission, procedures, and administration of the Radiation Dose 
        Reconstruction Program as the Secretaries jointly consider 
        appropriate.

    (b) On-Going Review and Oversight.--The Secretaries shall jointly 
take appropriate actions to ensure the on-going independent review and 
oversight of the Radiation Dose Reconstruction Program, including the 
establishment of the advisory board required by subsection (c).
    (c) Advisory <<NOTE: Establishment.>> Board.--(1) In taking actions 
under subsection (b), the Secretaries shall jointly appoint an advisory 
board to provide review and oversight of the Radiation Dose 
Reconstruction Program.

    (2) The advisory board under paragraph (1) shall be composed of the 
following:
            (A) At least one expert in historical dose reconstruction of 
        the type conducted under the Radiation Dose Reconstruction 
        Program.
            (B) At least one expert in radiation health matters.
            (C) At least one expert in risk communications matters.
            (D) A representative of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
            (E) A representative of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
            (F) At least three veterans, including at least one veteran 
        who is a member of an atomic veterans group.

    (3) The advisory board under paragraph (1) shall--
            (A) conduct periodic, random audits of dose reconstructions 
        under the Radiation Dose Reconstruction Program and of decisions 
        by the Department of Veterans Affairs on claims for service 
        connection of radiogenic diseases;
            (B) assist the Department of Veterans Affairs and the 
        Defense Threat Reduction Agency in communicating to veterans 
        information on the mission, procedures, and evidentiary 
        requirements of the Radiation Dose Reconstruction Program; and
            (C) carry out such other activities with respect to the 
        review and oversight of the Radiation Dose Reconstruction 
        Program as the Secretaries shall jointly specify.

    (4) The advisory board under paragraph (1) may make such 
recommendations on modifications in the mission or procedures of the 
Radiation Dose Reconstruction Program as the advisory board considers 
appropriate as a result of the audits conducted under paragraph (3)(A).

SEC. 602. STUDY ON DISPOSITION OF AIR FORCE HEALTH STUDY.

    (a) Study Required.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall, in 
accordance with this section, carry out a study to determine the 
appropriate disposition of the Air Force Health Study, an epidemiologic 
study of Air Force personnel who were responsible for conducting aerial 
spray missions of herbicides during the Vietnam era.

[[Page 117 STAT. 2669]]

    (b) Study <<NOTE: Deadline.>> Through National Academy of 
Sciences.--Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of 
this Act, the Secretary shall seek to enter into an agreement with the 
National Academy of Sciences, or another appropriate scientific 
organization, to carry out the study required by subsection (a).

    (c) Elements.--Under the study under subsection (a), the National 
Academy of Sciences, or other appropriate scientific organization, shall 
address the following:
            (1) The scientific merit of retaining and maintaining the 
        medical records, other study data, and laboratory specimens 
        collected in the course of the Air Force Health Study after the 
        currently-scheduled termination date of the study in 2006.
            (2) Whether or not any obstacles exist to retaining and 
        maintaining the medical records, other study data, and 
        laboratory specimens referred to in paragraph (1), including 
        privacy concerns.
            (3) The advisability of providing independent oversight of 
        the medical records, other study data, and laboratory specimens 
        referred to in paragraph (1), and of any further study of such 
        records, data, and specimens, and, if so, the mechanism for 
        providing such oversight.
            (4) The advisability of extending the Air Force Health 
        Study, including the potential value and relevance of extending 
        the study, the potential cost of extending the study, and the 
        Federal or non-Federal entity best suited to continue the study 
        if extended.
            (5) The advisability of making the laboratory specimens of 
        the Air Force Health Study available for independent research, 
        including the potential value and relevance of such research, 
        and the potential cost of such research.

    (d) Report.--Not <<NOTE: Deadline.>> later than 120 days after 
entering into an agreement under subsection (b), the National Academy of 
Sciences, or other appropriate scientific organization, shall submit to 
the Secretary and Congress a report on the results of the study under 
subsection (a). The report shall include the results of the study, 
including the matters addressed under subsection (c), and such other 
recommendations as the Academy, or other appropriate scientific 
organization, considers appropriate as a result of the study.

SEC. 603. FUNDING OF MEDICAL FOLLOW-UP AGENCY OF INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE 
            OF NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES FOR EPIDEMIOLOGICAL RESEARCH 
            ON MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES AND VETERANS.

    (a) Funding.--(1) The Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the 
Secretary of Defense shall each make available to the National Academy 
of Sciences in each of fiscal years 2004 through 2013 the amount of 
$250,000 for the Medical Follow-Up Agency of the Institute of Medicine 
of the Academy for purposes of epidemiological research on members of 
the Armed Forces and veterans.
    (2) The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall make available amounts 
under paragraph (1) for a fiscal year from amounts available for the 
Department of Veterans Affairs for that fiscal year.
    (3) The Secretary of Defense shall make available amounts under 
paragraph (1) for a fiscal year from amounts available for the 
Department of Defense for that fiscal year.

[[Page 117 STAT. 2670]]

    (b) Use of Funds.--The Medical Follow-Up Agency shall use funds made 
available under subsection (a) for epidemiological research on members 
of the Armed Forces and veterans.
    (c) Supplement Not Supplant.--Amounts made available to the Medical 
Follow-Up Agency under this section for a fiscal year for the purposes 
referred to in subsection (b) are in addition to any other amount made 
available to the Agency for that fiscal year for those purposes.

                        TITLE VII--OTHER MATTERS

SEC. 701. TIME LIMITATIONS ON RECEIPT OF CLAIM INFORMATION PURSUANT TO 
            REQUESTS OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    (a) Information To Complete Claims Applications.--Section 5102 is 
amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
    ``(c) Time Limitation.--(1) If information that a claimant and the 
claimant's representative, if any, are notified under subsection (b) is 
necessary to complete an application is not received by the Secretary 
within one year from the date such notice is sent, no benefit may be 
paid or furnished by reason of the claimant's application.
    ``(2) This subsection shall not apply to any application or claim 
for Government life insurance benefits.''.
    (b) Construction of Limitation on Information To Substantiate 
Claims.--Section 5103(b) is amended--
            (1) in paragraph (1), by striking ``if such'' and all that 
        follows through ``application'' and inserting ``such information 
        or evidence must be received by the Secretary within one year 
        from the date such notice is sent''; and
            (2) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

    ``(3) Nothing in paragraph (1) shall be construed to prohibit the 
Secretary from making a decision on a claim before the expiration of the 
period referred to in that subsection.''.
    (c) Effective <<NOTE: 38 USC 5102 note.>> Date.--The amendments made 
by this section shall take effect as if enacted on November 9, 2000, 
immediately after the enactment of the Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 
2000 (Public Law 106-475; 114 Stat. 2096).

    (d) Procedures <<NOTE: 38 USC 5103 note.>> for Readjudication of 
Certain Claims.--(1) The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
readjudicate a claim of a qualified claimant if the request for such 
readjudication is received not later than the end of the one-year period 
that begins on the date of the enactment of this Act.

    (2) For purposes of this subsection, a claimant is qualified within 
the meaning of paragraph (1) if the claimant--
            (A) received notice under section 5103(a) of title 38, 
        United States Code, requesting information or evidence to 
        substantiate a claim;
            (B) did not submit such information or evidence within a 
        year after the date such notice was sent;
            (C) did not file a timely appeal to the Board of Veterans' 
        Appeals or the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans 
        Claims; and
            (D) submits such information or evidence during the one-year 
        period referred to in paragraph (1).

[[Page 117 STAT. 2671]]

    (3) If the decision of the Secretary on a readjudication under this 
subsection is in favor of the qualified claimant, the award of the grant 
shall take effect as if the prior decision by the Secretary on the claim 
had not been made.
    (4) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to establish a 
duty on the part of the Secretary to identify or readjudicate any claim 
that--
            (A) is not submitted during the one-year period referred to 
        in paragraph (1); or
            (B) has been the subject of a timely appeal to the Board of 
        Veterans' Appeals or the United States Court of Appeals for 
        Veterans Claims.

    (e) Construction on Providing Renotification.--Nothing in this 
section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to 
require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs--
            (1) to provide notice under section 5103(a) of such title 
        with respect to a claim insofar as the Secretary has previously 
        provided such notice; or
            (2) to provide for a special notice with respect to this 
        section and the amendments made by this section.

SEC. 702. CLARIFICATION OF APPLICABILITY OF PROHIBITION ON ASSIGNMENT OF 
            VETERANS BENEFITS TO AGREEMENTS REQUIRING PAYMENT OF FUTURE 
            RECEIPT OF BENEFITS.

    Section 5301(a) is amended--
            (1) by inserting ``(1)'' after ``(a)'';
            (2) by designating the last sentence as paragraph (2); and
            (3) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

    ``(3)(A) This paragraph is intended to clarify that, in any case 
where a beneficiary entitled to compensation, pension, or dependency and 
indemnity compensation enters into an agreement with another person 
under which agreement such other person acquires for consideration the 
right to receive such benefit by payment of such compensation, pension, 
or dependency and indemnity compensation, as the case may be, except as 
provided in subparagraph (B), and including deposit into a joint account 
from which such other person may make withdrawals, or otherwise, such 
agreement shall be deemed to be an assignment and is prohibited.
    ``(B) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), nothing in this paragraph is 
intended to prohibit a loan involving a beneficiary under the terms of 
which the beneficiary may use the benefit to repay such other person as 
long as each of the periodic payments made to repay such other person is 
separately and voluntarily executed by the beneficiary or is made by 
preauthorized electronic funds transfer pursuant to the Electronic Funds 
Transfers Act (15 U.S.C. 1693 et seq.).
    ``(C) Any agreement or arrangement for collateral for security for 
an agreement that is prohibited under subparagraph (A) is also 
prohibited and is void from its inception.''.

SEC. 703. SIX-YEAR EXTENSION OF ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON MINORITY VETERANS.

    Section 544(e) is amended by striking ``December 31, 2003'' and 
inserting ``December 31, 2009''.

[[Page 117 STAT. 2672]]

SEC. 704. <<NOTE: 38 USC 5101 note.>> TEMPORARY AUTHORITY FOR 
            PERFORMANCE OF MEDICAL DISABILITIES EXAMINATIONS BY CONTRACT 
            PHYSICIANS.

    (a) Authority.--Using appropriated funds, other than funds available 
for compensation and pension, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs may 
provide for the conduct of examinations with respect to the medical 
disabilities of applicants for benefits under laws administered by the 
Secretary by persons other than Department of Veterans Affairs 
employees. The authority under this section is in addition to the 
authority provided in section 504(b) of the Veterans' Benefits 
Improvement Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-275; 38 U.S.C. 5101 note).
    (b) Performance by Contract.--Examinations under the authority 
provided in subsection (a) shall be conducted pursuant to contracts 
entered into and administered by the Under Secretary for Benefits.
    (c) Expiration.--The authority in subsection (a) shall expire on 
December 31, 2009. No examination may be carried out under the authority 
provided in that subsection after that date.
    (d) Report.--Not <<NOTE: Deadline.>> later than four years after the 
date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to 
Congress a report on the use of the authority provided in subsection 
(a). The Secretary shall include in the report an assessment of the 
effect of examinations under that authority on the cost, timeliness, and 
thoroughness of examinations with respect to the medical disabilities of 
applicants for benefits under laws administered by the Secretary.

SEC. 705. FORFEITURE OF BENEFITS FOR SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES.

    (a) Addition of Certain Offenses.--Paragraph (2) of section 6105(b) 
is amended--
            (1) by inserting ``175, 229,'' after ``sections''; and
            (2) by inserting ``831, 1091, 2332a, 2332b,'' after 
        ``798,''.

    (b) Effective <<NOTE: Applicability. 38 USC 6105 note.>> Date.--The 
amendments made by subsection (a) shall apply to claims filed after the 
date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 706. TWO-YEAR EXTENSION OF ROUND-DOWN REQUIREMENT FOR COMPENSATION 
            COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS.

    Sections 1104(a) and 1303(a) are each amended by striking ``2011'' 
and inserting ``2013''.

SEC. 707. CODIFICATION OF REQUIREMENT FOR EXPEDITIOUS TREATMENT OF CASES 
            ON REMAND.

    (a) Cases Remanded by Board of Veterans' Appeals.--(1) Chapter 51 is 
amended by adding at the end of subchapter I the following new section:

``Sec. 5109B. Expedited treatment of remanded claims

    ``The Secretary shall take such actions as may be necessary to 
provide for the expeditious treatment by the appropriate regional office 
of the Veterans Benefits Administration of any claim that is remanded to 
a regional office of the Veterans Benefits Administration by the Board 
of Veterans' Appeals.''.

[[Page 117 STAT. 2673]]

    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is 
amended by inserting after the item relating to section 5109A the 
following new item:

``5109B. Expedited treatment of remanded claims.''.

    (b) Cases Remanded by Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.--(1) 
Chapter 71 is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

``Sec. 7112. Expedited treatment of remanded claims

    ``The Secretary shall take such actions as may be necessary to 
provide for the expeditious treatment by the Board of any claim that is 
remanded to the Secretary by the Court of Appeals for Veterans 
Claims.''.
    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is 
amended by adding at the end the following new item:

``7112. Expedited treatment of remanded claims.''.

    (c) Repeal of Source Section.--Section 302 of the Veterans' Benefits 
Improvement Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-446; 108 Stat. 4658; 38 U.S.C. 
5101 note) is repealed.

SEC. 708. TECHNICAL AND CLERICAL AMENDMENTS.

    (a) Miscellaneous Amendments.--(1) Section 103(d) is amended--
            (A) in paragraph (4)--
                    (i) in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by 
                striking ``this subsection'' and inserting ``paragraph 
                (2)(A) or (3)''; and
                    (ii) in subparagraph (A), by striking ``paragraph 
                (2)'' and inserting ``paragraph (2)(A)''; and
            (B) in paragraph (5), by striking ``Paragraphs (2)'' and 
        inserting ``Paragraphs (2)(A)''.

    (2) Section 1729A is amended--
            (A) in subsection (b), by striking ``after June 30, 1997,'' 
        in the matter preceding paragraph (1);
            (B) in subsection (c), by striking paragraph (3);
            (C) by striking subsection (e); and
            (D) by redesignating subsection (f) as subsection (e).

    (3) Section 1804(c)(2) is amended by striking ``subsection'' and 
inserting ``section''.
    (4) Section 1974(a)(5) is amended by striking ``Secretary of 
Transportation'' and inserting ``Secretary of Homeland Security''.
    (b) Amendments Relating to the Jobs for Veterans Act.--(1)(A) 
Subsection (c)(2)(B)(ii) of section 4102A is amended by striking 
``October 1, 2002'' and inserting ``October 1, 2003''.
    (B) The <<NOTE: 38 USC 4102A.>> amendment made by subparagraph (A) 
shall take effect as if included in the enactment of section 4(a) of the 
Jobs for Veterans Act (Public Law 107-288; 116 Stat. 2038).

    (2) Subsection (f)(1) of section 4102A is amended by striking ``6 
months after the date of the enactment of this section,'' and inserting 
``May 7, 2003,''.
    (c) Amendments Relating to the Establishment of Social Security 
Administration as an Independent Agency.--(1) Section 1322 is amended--
            (A) in subsection (a), by striking ``Secretary of Health and 
        Human Services'' and all that follows through the period and

[[Page 117 STAT. 2674]]

        inserting ``Commissioner of Social Security, and shall be 
        certified by the Commissioner to the Secretary upon request of 
        the Secretary.''; and
            (B) in subsection (b)--
                    (i) by striking ``Secretary of Health and Human 
                Services'' in the first sentence and inserting 
                ``Commissioner of Social Security'';
                    (ii) by striking ``the two Secretaries'' and 
                inserting ``the Secretary and the Commissioner''; and
                    (iii) by striking ``Secretary of Health and Human 
                Services'' in the second sentence and inserting 
                ``Commissioner''.

    (2) Section 5101(a) is amended by striking ``Secretary of Health and 
Human Services'' and inserting ``Commissioner of Social Security''.
    (3) Section 5317 is amended by striking ``Secretary of Health and 
Human Services'' in subsections (a), (b), and (g) and inserting 
``Commissioner of Social Security''.
    (4)(A) Section 5318 is amended--
            (i) in subsection (a), by striking ``Department of Health 
        and Human Services'' and inserting ``Social Security 
        Administration''; and
            (ii) in subsection (b)--
                    (I) by striking ``Department of Health and Human 
                Services'' and inserting ``Social Security 
                Administration'';
                    (II) by striking ``Secretary of Health and Human 
                Services'' the first place it appears and inserting 
                ``Commissioner of Social Security'';
                    (III) by striking ``Secretary of Health and Human 
                Services'' the second place it appears and inserting 
                ``Commissioner''; and
                    (IV) by striking ``such Secretaries'' and inserting 
                ``the Secretary and the Commissioner''.

    (B)(i) The heading of such section is amended to read as follows:

[[Page 117 STAT. 2675]]

``Sec. 5318. Review of Social Security Administration death 
                        information''.

    (ii) The item relating to that section in the table of sections at 
the beginning at chapter 53 is amended to read as follows:

``5318. Review of Social Security Administration death information.''.

    Approved December 16, 2003.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 2297 (S. 1132):
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

HOUSE REPORTS: No. 108-211 (Comm. on Veterans' Affairs)
SENATE REPORTS: No. 108-169 accompanying S. 1132 (Comm. on Veterans' 
Affairs).
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 149 (2003):
            Oct. 8, considered and passed House.
            Nov. 19, considered and passed Senate, amended.
            Nov. 20, House concurred in Senate amendment.

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