Text: S.114 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 115-46 (08/12/2017)

 
[115th Congress Public Law 46]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]



[[Page 957]]

              VA CHOICE AND QUALITY EMPLOYMENT ACT OF 2017

[[Page 131 STAT. 958]]

Public Law 115-46
115th Congress

                                 An Act


 
To authorize appropriations and to appropriate amounts for the Veterans 
Choice Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to improve hiring 
   authorities of the Department, to authorize major medical facility 
  leases, and for other purposes. <<NOTE: Aug. 12, 2017 -  [S. 114]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: VA Choice and 
Quality Employment Act of 2017. 38 USC 101 note.>> 
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``VA Choice and 
Quality Employment Act of 2017''.
    (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents for this Act is as 
follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

      TITLE I--APPROPRIATION OF AMOUNTS FOR VETERANS CHOICE PROGRAM

Sec. 101. Appropriation of amounts for Veterans Choice Program.

                       TITLE II--PERSONNEL MATTERS

Sec. 201. Modification to annual determination of staffing shortages in 
           Veterans Health Administration.
Sec. 202. Establishment of Department of Veterans Affairs Executive 
           Management Fellowship Program.
Sec. 203. Accountability of leaders for managing the Department of 
           Veterans Affairs.
Sec. 204. Reemployment of former employees at Department of Veterans 
           Affairs.
Sec. 205. Promotional opportunities for technical experts at Department 
           of Veterans Affairs.
Sec. 206. Employment of students and recent graduates by Department of 
           Veterans Affairs.
Sec. 207. Encouragement of transition of military medical professionals 
           into employment with Veterans Health Administration.
Sec. 208. Recruiting database at Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sec. 209. Training for human resources professionals of Veterans Health 
           Administration on recruitment and retention.
Sec. 210. Plan to hire directors of medical centers of Department of 
           Veterans Affairs.
Sec. 211. Exit surveys at Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sec. 212. Requirement that physician assistants employed by the 
           Department of Veterans Affairs receive competitive pay.
Sec. 213. Expansion of direct-hiring authority for Department of 
           Veterans Affairs in case of shortage of highly qualified 
           candidates.
Sec. 214. Comptroller General of the United States assessment of 
           succession planning at Department of Veterans Affairs.

                TITLE III--MAJOR MEDICAL FACILITY LEASES

Sec. 301. Authorization of certain major medical facility leases of the 
           Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sec. 302. Authorization of appropriations for medical facility leases.

[[Page 131 STAT. 959]]

                         TITLE IV--OTHER MATTERS

Sec. 401. Extension of reduction in amount of pension furnished by 
           Department of Veterans Affairs for certain veterans covered 
           by medicaid plans for services furnished by nursing 
           facilities.
Sec. 402. Extension of requirement for collection of fees for housing 
           loans guaranteed by Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Sec. 403. Extension of authority to use income information.

      TITLE I--APPROPRIATION OF AMOUNTS FOR VETERANS CHOICE PROGRAM

SEC. 101. APPROPRIATION OF AMOUNTS FOR VETERANS CHOICE PROGRAM.

    (a) In General.--There is authorized to be appropriated, and is 
appropriated, to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, out of any funds in 
the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $2,100,000,000 to be deposited 
in the Veterans Choice Fund under section 802 of the Veterans Access, 
Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-146; 38 U.S.C. 
1701 note).
    (b) Availability.--The amount appropriated under subsection (a) 
shall remain available until expended.

                       TITLE II--PERSONNEL MATTERS

SEC. 201. MODIFICATION TO ANNUAL DETERMINATION OF STAFFING 
                        SHORTAGES IN VETERANS HEALTH 
                        ADMINISTRATION.

    Section 7412(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--
            (1) by striking ``the five occupations'' and inserting ``at 
        a minimum, the five clinical occupations and the five 
        nonclinical occupations''; and
            (2) by striking ``throughout the Department'' and inserting 
        ``with respect to each medical center of the Department,''.
SEC. 202. ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 
                        EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM.

    (a) Fellowship Program.--Chapter 7 of title 38, United States Code, 
is amended <<NOTE: 38 USC prec. 741.>>  by adding at the end the 
following new subchapter:

        ``SUBCHAPTER III--EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

``Sec. 741. <<NOTE: 38 USC 741.>>  Executive Management Fellowship 
                Program

    ``(a) Fellowship Program.--There is in the Department an Executive 
Management Fellowship Program. The purpose of the program shall be to 
provide--
            ``(1) eligible employees of the Veterans Benefits 
        Administration and the Veterans Health Administration with 
        training and experience in the private sector; and
            ``(2) eligible employees of a private-sector entity with 
        training and experience in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    ``(b) Fellowship.--(1) A fellowship provided under this section is a 
1-year fellowship during which--
            ``(A) with respect to a Department participant, the 
        participant receives training and experience at a private-sector 
        entity that is engaged in the administration and delivery of 
        health

[[Page 131 STAT. 960]]

        care or other services similar to the benefits administered by 
        the Secretary; and
            ``(B) with respect to a private-sector participant, the 
        participant receives training and experience at the Veterans 
        Benefits Administration or the Veterans Health Administration.

    ``(2) <<NOTE: Contracts.>>  The Secretary shall enter into such 
agreements with private-sector entities as are necessary to carry out 
this section.

    ``(c) Selection of Recipients.--(1) In August of each year, the 
Secretary shall select--
            ``(A) not fewer than 18 and not more than 30 eligible 
        employees of the Veterans Benefits Administration and the 
        Veterans Health Administration to receive a fellowship under 
        this section; and
            ``(B) not fewer than 18 and not more than 30 eligible 
        employees of private-sector entities to receive a fellowship 
        under this section.

    ``(2) To the extent practicable, the Secretary shall select eligible 
employees under subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1) from among 
eligible employees who are veterans in a manner that is reflective of 
the demographics of the veteran population of the United States and that 
whenever practicable provides a preference to such employees who 
represent or service rural areas.
    ``(d) Eligible Employees.--For the purposes of this section, an 
eligible employee is--
            ``(1) with respect to an employee of the Veterans Benefits 
        Administration or the Veterans Health Administration, an 
        employee who--
                    ``(A) is compensated at a rate of basic pay not less 
                than the minimum rate of basic pay payable for grade GS-
                14 of the General Schedule and not more than either the 
                minimum rate of basic pay payable to a member of the 
                Senior Executive Service under section 5382 of title 5 
                or the minimum rate of basic pay payable pursuant to 
                chapter 74 of this title, as the case may be;
                    ``(B) enters into an agreement with the Secretary 
                under subsection (e); and
                    ``(C) submits to the Secretary an application 
                containing such information and assurances as the 
                Secretary may require; and
            ``(2) with respect to an employee of a private-sector 
        entity, an employee who--
                    ``(A) is employed in a position whose duties and 
                responsibilities are commensurate with an employee of 
                the Department described in paragraph (1);
                    ``(B) enters into an agreement with the Secretary 
                under subsection (e); and
                    ``(C) submits to the Secretary an application 
                containing such information and assurances as the 
                Secretary may require.

    ``(e) Agreements.--(1) An agreement between the Secretary and a 
Department participant shall be in writing, shall be signed by the 
participant, and shall include the following provisions:
            ``(A) The Secretary's agreement to provide the participant 
        with a fellowship under this section;
            ``(B) The participant's agreement--
                    ``(i) to accept the fellowship;

[[Page 131 STAT. 961]]

                    ``(ii) <<NOTE: Time period.>>  after completion of 
                the fellowship, to serve as a full-time employee in the 
                Veterans Benefits Administration or the Veterans Health 
                Administration for at least 2 years as specified in the 
                agreement; and
                    ``(iii) that, during the 2-year period beginning on 
                the last day of the fellowship, the participant will not 
                accept employment in the same industry as the industry 
                of the private-sector entity at which the participant 
                accepts the fellowship.
            ``(C) A provision that any financial obligation of the 
        United States arising out of an agreement entered into under 
        this subchapter, and any obligation of the participant which is 
        conditioned on such agreement, is contingent upon funds being 
        appropriated.
            ``(D) A statement of the damages to which the United States 
        is entitled under this subchapter for the participant's breach 
        of the agreement.
            ``(E) <<NOTE: Determination.>>  Such other terms as the 
        Secretary determines are required to be included in the 
        agreement.

    ``(2) An agreement between the Secretary and a private-sector 
participant shall be in writing, shall be signed by the participant, and 
shall include the following provisions:
            ``(A) The Secretary's agreement to provide the participant 
        with a fellowship under this section.
            ``(B) The participant's agreement to accept the fellowship.
            ``(C) Such other terms as the Secretary determines are 
        required to be included in the agreement.

    ``(f) Treatment of Recipients.--(1) A Department participant shall 
be considered an employee of the Department for all purposes, including 
for purposes of receiving a salary and benefits, and shall remain 
eligible for all promotion and incentive programs otherwise available to 
such an employee.
    ``(2) A private-sector participant shall be considered an employee 
of the private-sector entity that employs the participant for all 
purposes, including for purposes of receiving a salary and benefits, and 
during the fellowship shall be treated as a contractor of the 
Department.
    ``(g) Reports.--(1) Not later than 60 days after completing a 
fellowship under this section, a recipient of the fellowship shall 
submit to the Secretary a report on the fellowship.
    ``(2) Each such report shall describe the duties of the recipient 
during the fellowship and any recommendations of the recipient for the 
application by the Secretary of industry processes, technologies, and 
best practices.
    ``(3) Not later than 7 days after receiving each such report, the 
Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the 
Senate and House of Representatives such report without change.
    ``(h) Definitions.--In this section:
            ``(1) The term `Department participant' means an employee of 
        the Veterans Benefits Administration or the Veterans Health 
        Administration who is participating in the fellowship under this 
        section.
            ``(2) The term `private-sector entity' includes an entity 
        operating under a public-private partnership.

[[Page 131 STAT. 962]]

            ``(3) The term `private-sector participant' means an 
        employee of a private-sector entity who is participating in the 
        fellowship under this section.''.

    (b) <<NOTE: 38 USC 741 note.>>  Deadline for Implementation.--Not 
later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall implement the Executive Management 
Fellowship Program required under section 741 of title 38, United States 
Code, as added by subsection (a).

    (c) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
chapter 7 of title 38, United States Code, <<NOTE: 38 USC prec. 701.>>  
is amended by adding at the end the following new items:

        ``subchapter iii--executive management fellowship program

``741. Executive Management Fellowship Program.''.

SEC. 203. ACCOUNTABILITY OF LEADERS FOR MANAGING THE DEPARTMENT OF 
                        VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    (a) In General.--Subchapter I of chapter 7 of title 38, United 
States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
``Sec. 725. <<NOTE: 38 USC 725.>>  Annual performance plan for 
                political appointees

    ``(a) In General.--The Secretary shall conduct an annual performance 
plan for each political appointee of the Department that is similar to 
the annual performance plan conducted for an employee of the Department 
who is appointed as a career appointee (as that term is defined in 
section 3132(a) of title 5) within the Senior Executive Service at the 
Department.
    ``(b) <<NOTE: Assessment.>>  Elements of Plan.--Each annual 
performance plan conducted under subsection (a) with respect to a 
political appointee of the Department shall include an assessment of 
whether the appointee is meeting the following goals:
            ``(1) Recruiting, selecting, and retaining well-qualified 
        individuals for employment at the Department.
            ``(2) Engaging and motivating employees.
            ``(3) Training and developing employees and preparing those 
        employees for future leadership roles within the Department.
            ``(4) Holding each employee of the Department that is a 
        manager accountable for addressing issues relating to 
        performance, in particular issues relating to the performance of 
        employees that report to the manager.

    ``(c) Definition of Political Appointee.--In this section, the term 
`political appointee' means an employee of the Department who holds--
            ``(1) a position which has been excepted from the 
        competitive service by reason of its confidential, policy-
        determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character; or
            ``(2) a position in the Senior Executive Service as a 
        noncareer appointee (as such term is defined in section 3132(a) 
        of title 5).''.

    (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
chapter 7 of such title <<NOTE: 38 USC prec. 701.>>  is amended by 
inserting after the item relating to section 723 the following new item:

``725. Annual performance plan for political appointees.''.

[[Page 131 STAT. 963]]

SEC. 204. <<NOTE: 38 USC 701 note.>>  REEMPLOYMENT OF FORMER 
                        EMPLOYEES AT DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS 
                        AFFAIRS.

    (a) In General.--Notwithstanding sections 3309 through 3318 of title 
5, United States Code, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs may 
noncompetitively appoint a qualified former career or career conditional 
employee to any position within the competitive service at the 
Department of Veterans Affairs that is one grade or equivalent higher 
than the grade or equivalent of the position at the Department most 
recently occupied by the employee.
    (b) Limitation.--The Secretary may not appoint a qualified former 
employee to a position that is more than one grade (or equivalent) 
higher than the position at the Department most recently occupied by the 
employee.
    (c) Definition of Qualified Former Employee.--For purposes of this 
section, the term ``qualified former employee'' means any individual 
who--
            (1) formerly occupied any career or career conditional 
        position at the Department of Veterans Affairs within 2 years 
        before applying for reemployment at the Department;
            (2) voluntarily left such position, or was subject to a 
        reduction in force, and had a satisfactory performance record 
        while occupying such position; and
            (3) since leaving such position has maintained licensing 
        requirements, related to the position, if any, and gained skill, 
        knowledge, or other factors related to the position.
SEC. 205. <<NOTE: Deadline. 38 USC 701 note.>>  PROMOTIONAL 
                        OPPORTUNITIES FOR TECHNICAL EXPERTS AT 
                        DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, 
the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall establish a promotional track 
system for employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs that the 
Secretary determines are technical experts pursuant to regulations 
prescribed by the Secretary for purposes of carrying out this section. 
Such system shall--
            (1) provide any such employee the opportunity to advance 
        within the Department without being required to transition to a 
        management position; and
            (2) for purposes of achieving career advancement--
                    (A) provide for the establishment of new positions 
                within the Department; and
                    (B) notwithstanding any other provision of law, 
                provide for increases in pay for any such employee.
SEC. 206. <<NOTE: 38 USC 701 note.>>  EMPLOYMENT OF STUDENTS AND 
                        RECENT GRADUATES BY DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS 
                        AFFAIRS.

    (a) <<NOTE: Regulations.>>  In General.--The Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs shall prescribe regulations to allow for excepted service 
appointments of students and recent graduates leading to conversion to 
career or career conditional employment of a student or recent graduate 
of a qualifying educational institution, as defined by the Department.

    (b) Applicability.--The conversion authority described in subsection 
(a) shall be applicable to individuals in good standing who--
            (1) are employed in a qualifying internship or fellowship 
        program at the Department;
            (2) are employed in the Department in a volunteer capacity 
        and performing substantive duties comparable to those of

[[Page 131 STAT. 964]]

        individuals in internship or fellowship programs and meet the 
        required number of hours for conversion;
            (3) are employed in the Department under a contract or 
        agreement with an external nonprofit organization and performing 
        substantive duties comparable to those of individuals in 
        internship or fellowship programs;
            (4) have received educational assistance under chapter 33 of 
        title 38, United States Code; or
            (5) graduated from a qualifying educational institution, as 
        defined by the Department, and have not reached 30 years of age.

    (c) Uniformity.--For the purposes of paragraphs (2) and (3) of 
subsection (b), hours of work performed by an individual employed shall 
be considered equal to those performed by an individual employed in a 
qualifying internship or fellowship program by the Department.
SEC. 207. <<NOTE: 38 USC 7401 note.>>  ENCOURAGEMENT OF TRANSITION 
                        OF MILITARY MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS INTO 
                        EMPLOYMENT WITH VETERANS HEALTH 
                        ADMINISTRATION.

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall establish a program to 
encourage an individual who serves in the Armed Forces with a military 
occupational specialty relating to the provision of health care to seek 
employment with the Veterans Health Administration when the individual 
has been discharged or released from service in the Armed Forces or is 
contemplating separating from such service.
SEC. 208. <<NOTE: Determinations. 38 USC 701 note.>>  RECRUITING 
                        DATABASE AT DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS 
                        AFFAIRS.

    (a) Establishment.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
establish a single database that lists--
            (1) each vacant position in the Department of Veterans 
        Affairs that the Secretary determines is critical to the mission 
        of the Department, difficult to fill, or both; and
            (2) each vacant position in the Department of Veterans 
        Affairs for a mental health professional.

    (b) Qualified Applicant.--If the Secretary determines that an 
applicant for a vacant position listed in the database established under 
subsection (a) is qualified for such position but does not select the 
applicant for such position, the Secretary, at the election of the 
applicant, may consider the applicant for other similar vacant positions 
listed in the database for which the applicant is qualified.
    (c) Prolonged Vacancies.--If the Secretary does not fill a vacant 
position listed in the database established under subsection (a) after a 
period determined appropriate by the Secretary, the Secretary--
            (1) may ensure that applicants described in subsection (b) 
        are considered for such position; and
            (2) may use the database established under subsection (a) to 
        assist in filling such position.

    (d) Report.--Not later than one year after the date of the enactment 
of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on the use 
and efficacy of the database established under subsection (a).

[[Page 131 STAT. 965]]

SEC. 209. <<NOTE: 38 USC 7401 note.>>  TRAINING FOR HUMAN 
                        RESOURCES PROFESSIONALS OF VETERANS HEALTH 
                        ADMINISTRATION ON RECRUITMENT AND 
                        RETENTION.

    (a) In General.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall provide to 
human resources professionals of the Veterans Health Administration 
training on how to best recruit and retain employees of the Veterans 
Health Administration, including with respect to any recruitment and 
retention matters that are unique to the Veterans Health Administration 
pursuant to chapter 74 of title 38, United States Code, or other 
provisions of law.
    (b) Virtual Training.--Training provided under this section shall be 
provided virtually.
    (c) Amount of Training.--The Secretary shall ensure that each human 
resources professional of the Veterans Health Administration receives 
the training described in subsection (a)--
            (1) as soon as practicable after being hired by the 
        Secretary as a human resources professional; and
            (2) annually thereafter.

    (d) Certification.--The Secretary shall require that each human 
resources professional of the Veterans Health Administration, upon the 
completion of the training described in subsection (a), certifies that 
the professional received the training and understands the information 
provided by the training.
    (e) Annual Report.--Not less frequently than annually, the Secretary 
shall submit to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the 
Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives a report 
on the training described in subsection (a), including the cost of 
providing such training and the number of human resources professionals 
who received such training during the year covered by the report.
SEC. 210. <<NOTE: Deadlines. 38 USC 7401 note.>>  PLAN TO HIRE 
                        DIRECTORS OF MEDICAL CENTERS OF DEPARTMENT 
                        OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    (a) Plan.--Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment 
of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall develop and 
implement a plan to hire highly qualified directors for each medical 
center of the Department of Veterans Affairs that lacks a permanent 
director as of the date of the plan.
    (b) Priority.--The Secretary shall prioritize under the plan 
developed under subsection (a) the hiring of directors for medical 
centers that have not had a permanent director for the longest periods.
    (c) Matters Included.--The plan developed under subsection (a) shall 
include the following:
            (1) A deadline to hire directors of medical centers of the 
        Department as described in such subsection.
            (2) Identification of the possible impediments to such 
        hiring.
            (3) Identification of opportunities to promote and train 
        candidates from within the Department to senior executive 
        positions in the Department, including as directors of medical 
        centers.

    (d) Submittal of Plan.--Not later than 120 days after the date of 
the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee 
on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans' 
Affairs of the House of Representatives the plan developed under 
subsection (a).

[[Page 131 STAT. 966]]

    (e) Semiannual Reports.--Not later than 180 days after the date of 
the enactment of this Act, and not later than 180 days thereafter, the 
Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the 
Senate and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of 
Representatives a report containing a list of each medical center of the 
Department that lacks a permanent director as of the date of the report.
SEC. 211. <<NOTE: 38 USC 701 note.>>  EXIT SURVEYS AT DEPARTMENT 
                        OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    (a) Exit Surveys Required.--
            (1) In general.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
        develop and carry out a standardized exit survey to be 
        voluntarily completed by career and noncareer employees and 
        executives of the Department of Veterans Affairs who voluntarily 
        separate from the Department.
            (2) Consultation.--Such exit survey shall be developed in 
        consultation with an appropriate non-Department entity with 
        experience developing such surveys.

    (b) Survey Content.--The survey shall include, at a minimum, the 
following:
            (1) Reasons for leaving the Department.
            (2) Efforts made by the supervisor of the employee to retain 
        the individual.
            (3) The extent of job satisfaction and engagement during the 
        employment.
            (4) The intent of employee to either remain employed within 
        the Federal Government or to leave employment with the Federal 
        Government.
            (5) Such other matters as the Secretary determines 
        appropriate.

    (c) Anonymity of Survey Content.--The Secretary shall ensure that 
data collected under subsection (a)--
            (1) is anonymized, including through the use of a location 
        that allows for privacy;
            (2) is not directly visible by another employee; and
            (3) does not require the departing employee to input any 
        personally identifiable data.

    (d) Sharing of Survey Data.--The Secretary shall ensure that the 
results of the survey required by subsection (a) are--
            (1) aggregated at the Veterans Integrated Service Network 
        level; and
            (2) shared on an annual basis with directors and managers of 
        facilities of the Department and the Veterans Integrated Service 
        Networks.

    (e) Annual Report.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than one year after the date of 
        the enactment of this Act and not less frequently than once each 
        year thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on 
        Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans' 
        Affairs of the House of Representatives a report containing the 
        aggregate results of the exit survey under subsection (a) 
        covering the year prior to the report.
            (2) Contents.--Each report submitted under paragraph (1) 
        shall include, for the period covered by the report, the 
        following:
                    (A) <<NOTE: Analysis.>>  An analysis of the most 
                common reasons employees choose to leave the Department.

[[Page 131 STAT. 967]]

                    (B) The steps the Secretary is taking to improve 
                retention, particularly for mission-critical 
                occupations.
                    (C) The demographic characteristics of employees 
                choosing to leave the Department.
                    (D) Any legislative barriers to improving employee 
                retention.
                    (E) The total number of employees who voluntarily 
                separated from the Department and the number and 
                percentage of whom took the exit survey under subsection 
                (a).
SEC. 212. REQUIREMENT THAT PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS EMPLOYED BY THE 
                        DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS RECEIVE 
                        COMPETITIVE PAY.

    Section 7451(a)(2) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--
            (1) by redesignating subparagraph (B) as subparagraph (C);
            (2) by inserting after subparagraph (A) the following new 
        subparagraph (B):
            ``(B) Physician assistant.''; and
            (3) in subparagraph (C), as redesignated by paragraph (1), 
        by striking ``and registered nurse'' and inserting ``registered 
        nurse, and physician assistant''.
SEC. 213. EXPANSION OF DIRECT-HIRING AUTHORITY FOR DEPARTMENT OF 
                        VETERANS AFFAIRS IN CASE OF SHORTAGE OF 
                        HIGHLY QUALIFIED CANDIDATES.

    Section 3304(a)(3)(B) of title 5, United States Code, is amended by 
inserting ``(or, with respect to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 
that there exists a severe shortage of highly qualified candidates)'' 
after ``severe shortage of candidates''.
SEC. 214. COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES ASSESSMENT OF 
                        SUCCESSION PLANNING AT DEPARTMENT OF 
                        VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    (a) Assessment.--
            (1) In general.--The Comptroller General of the United 
        States shall assess the extent to which key succession planning 
        policies and guidance at the Department of Veterans Affairs, 
        including the Veterans Health Administration, the Veterans 
        Benefits Administration, and the National Cemetery 
        Administration, are consistent with leading practices for 
        succession and workforce planning identified by Comptroller 
        General.
            (2) Additional matters.--In carrying out the assessment 
        required by paragraph (1), the Comptroller General may assess 
        such other matters as the Comptroller General considers 
        appropriate.

    (b) Report.--Not later than two years after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall submit to the 
Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on 
Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the 
assessment carried out under subsection (a).
    (c) Sense of Congress on Study on Compliance With Policies and 
Guidance.--It is the sense of Congress that--
            (1) the Comptroller General should conduct a study to 
        examine the extent to which a sampling of installations of the 
        Department of Veterans Affairs are complying with policies

[[Page 131 STAT. 968]]

        and guidance of the Department, as well as applicable leading 
        practices; and
            (2) the scope and timeframe of a study conducted as 
        described in paragraph (1) may be dependent upon the findings of 
        the Comptroller General with respect to the assessment carried 
        out under subsection (a).

                TITLE III--MAJOR MEDICAL FACILITY LEASES

SEC. 301. AUTHORIZATION OF CERTAIN MAJOR MEDICAL FACILITY LEASES 
                        OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may carry out the following major 
medical facility leases at the locations specified and in an amount for 
each lease not to exceed the amount specified for such location (not 
including any estimated cancellation costs):
            (1) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Ann Arbor, 
        Michigan, an amount not to exceed $4,247,000.
            (2) For a new outpatient mental health clinic, Birmingham, 
        Alabama, an amount not to exceed $6,649,000.
            (3) For new research space, Boston, Massachusetts, an amount 
        not to exceed $6,224,000.
            (4) For a replacement research space, Charleston, South 
        Carolina, an amount not to exceed $7,274,000.
            (5) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Corpus Christi, 
        Texas, an amount not to exceed $6,556,000.
            (6) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Daytona Beach, 
        Florida, an amount not to exceed $12,198,000.
            (7) For a replacement Chief Business Office Purchased Care 
        office space, Denver, Colorado, an amount not to exceed 
        $14,784,000.
            (8) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Fredericksburg, 
        Virginia, an amount not to exceed $45,015,000.
            (9) For a new outpatient clinic, Gainesville, Florida, an 
        amount not to exceed $7,891,000.
            (10) For an outpatient mental health clinic, Gainesville, 
        Florida, an amount not to exceed $4,320,000.
            (11) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Hampton Roads, 
        Virginia, an amount not to exceed $18,141,000.
            (12) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Indianapolis, 
        Indiana, an amount not to exceed $7,876,000.
            (13) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Jacksonville, 
        Florida, an amount not to exceed $18,623,000.
            (14) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Missoula, Montana, 
        an amount not to exceed $6,942,000.
            (15) For a replacement outpatient mental health clinic, 
        Northern Colorado, Colorado, an amount not to exceed $8,904,000.
            (16) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Ocala, Florida, an 
        amount not to exceed $5,026,000.
            (17) For a new outpatient clinic, Oxnard, California, an 
        amount not to exceed $5,274,000.
            (18) For a new outpatient clinic, Pike County, Georgia, an 
        amount not to exceed $5,565,000.
            (19) For a new outpatient clinic, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 
        an amount not to exceed $6,247,000.

[[Page 131 STAT. 969]]

            (20) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Portland, Maine, 
        an amount not to exceed $6,808,000.
            (21) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Raleigh, North 
        Carolina, an amount not to exceed $21,870,000.
            (22) For a replacement outpatient clinic, phase II, 
        Rochester, New York, an amount not to exceed $3,645,000.
            (23) For a replacement research space, San Diego, 
        California, an amount not to exceed $4,852,000.
            (24) For a new outpatient clinic, Santa Rosa, California, an 
        amount not to exceed $6,922,000.
            (25) For a replacement mental health clinic, Tampa, Florida, 
        an amount not to exceed $13,387,000.
            (26) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Lakeland, Tampa, 
        Florida, an amount not to exceed $10,760,000.
            (27) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Terre Haute, 
        Indiana, an amount not to exceed $4,102,000.
            (28) For a replacement outpatient clinic, Rapid City, South 
        Dakota, an amount not to exceed $4,532,000.
SEC. 302. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR MEDICAL FACILITY 
                        LEASES.

    There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs for fiscal year 2018 or the year in which funds are appropriated 
for the Medical Facilities account $274,634,000 for the major medical 
facility leases authorized in section 301.

                         TITLE IV--OTHER MATTERS

SEC. 401. EXTENSION OF REDUCTION IN AMOUNT OF PENSION FURNISHED BY 
                        DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS FOR CERTAIN 
                        VETERANS COVERED BY MEDICAID PLANS FOR 
                        SERVICES FURNISHED BY NURSING FACILITIES.

    Section 5503(d)(7) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by 
striking ``September 30, 2024'' and inserting ``September 30, 2027''.
SEC. 402. EXTENSION OF REQUIREMENT FOR COLLECTION OF FEES FOR 
                        HOUSING LOANS GUARANTEED BY SECRETARY OF 
                        VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    Section 3729(b)(2) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--
            (1) in subparagraph (A)--
                    (A) in clause (iii), by striking ``September 30, 
                2024'' and inserting ``September 30, 2027''; and
                    (B) in clause (iv), by striking ``September 30, 
                2024'' and inserting ``September 30, 2027'';
            (2) in subparagraph (B)--
                    (A) in clause (i), by striking ``September 30, 
                2024'' and inserting ``September 30, 2027''; and
                    (B) in clause (ii), by striking ``September 30, 
                2024'' and inserting ``September 30, 2027'';
            (3) in subparagraph (C)--
                    (A) in clause (i), by striking ``September 30, 
                2024'' and inserting ``September 30, 2027''; and
                    (B) in clause (ii), by striking ``September 30, 
                2024'' and inserting ``September 30, 2027''; and
            (4) in subparagraph (D)--

[[Page 131 STAT. 970]]

                    (A) in clause (i), by striking ``September 30, 
                2024'' and inserting ``September 30, 2027''; and
                    (B) in clause (ii), by striking ``September 30, 
                2024'' and inserting ``September 30, 2027''.
SEC. 403. EXTENSION OF AUTHORITY TO USE INCOME INFORMATION.

    Section 5317(g) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by 
striking ``September 30, 2024'' and inserting ``September 30, 2027''.

    Approved August 12, 2017.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 114 (H.R. 1690):
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

HOUSE REPORTS: No. 115-249 (Comm. on Veterans' Affairs) accompanying 
H.R. 1690.
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 163 (2017):
            May 25, considered and passed Senate.
            July 24, considered and failed House.
            July 28, considered and passed House, amended.
            Aug. 1, Senate concurred in House amendments.
DAILY COMPILATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS (2017):
            Aug. 12, Presidential remarks.

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