BLACK HILLS NATIONAL CEMETERY BOUNDARY EXPANSION ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 20
(House of Representatives - February 06, 2017)

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[Pages H985-H987]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                              {time}  1715
          BLACK HILLS NATIONAL CEMETERY BOUNDARY EXPANSION ACT

  Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 337) to transfer administrative jurisdiction over certain 
Bureau of Land Management land from the Secretary of the Interior to 
the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for inclusion in the Black Hills 
National Cemetery, and for other purposes.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                H.R. 337

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       The Act may be cited as the ``Black Hills National Cemetery 
     Boundary Expansion Act''.

     SEC. 2. WITHDRAWAL AND TRANSFER OF PUBLIC LAND FOR CEMETERY 
                   USE.

       (a) Due Diligence.--Prior to the withdrawal and transfer in 
     subsection (b), the Secretary of Veterans Affairs will 
     complete appropriate environmental, cultural resource and 
     other due diligence activities on the public lands identified 
     in subsection (c), so that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
     may confirm that the land is suitable for cemetery purposes. 
     The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall notify the Secretary 
     of the Interior of such due diligence activities prior to 
     initiating and shall coordinate as needed during the 
     performance of such activities.
       (b) Withdrawal and Transfer.--After completion of the due 
     diligence activities in subsection (a) and upon receipt by 
     the Secretary of the Interior of written confirmation from 
     the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that the land is suitable 
     for cemetery purposes, and subject to valid existing rights, 
     the public lands described in subsection (c) shall be--
       (1) withdrawn from all forms of appropriation under the 
     public land laws, including the mining laws, the mineral 
     leasing laws, and the geothermal leasing laws, for as long as 
     the lands remain under the administrative jurisdiction of the 
     Secretary of Veterans Affairs;
       (2) deemed property as defined in section 102(9) of title 
     40, United States Code, for as long as the lands remain under 
     the administrative jurisdiction of the Secretary of Veterans 
     Affairs; and
       (3) transferred to the administrative jurisdiction of the 
     Secretary of Veterans Affairs for use as national cemeteries 
     under chapter 24 of title 38, United States Code.
       (c) Land Description.--The public lands withdrawn, deemed 
     property, and transferred under subsection (b) shall be the 
     approximately 200 acres of land adjacent to Black Hills 
     National Cemetery, South Dakota, generally depicted as 
     ``Proposed National Cemetery Expansion'' on the map entitled 
     ``Proposed Expansion of Black Hills National Cemetery--South 
     Dakota'' and dated June 16, 2016, except the land located 
     within 100 feet of the centerline of the Centennial Trail 
     (which runs along the northern boundary of the ``Proposed 
     National Cemetery Expansion'') and that is located south of 
     the Trail.
       (d) Boundary Modification.--Immediately after the public 
     lands are withdrawn, deemed property, and transferred under 
     subsection (b), the boundary of the Black Hills National 
     Cemetery shall be modified to include the public lands 
     identified in subsection (c).
       (e) Modification of Public Land Order.--Immediately after 
     the public lands under subsection (b) are withdrawn, deemed 
     property, and transferred under subsection (b), Public Land 
     Order 2112, dated June 6, 1960 (25 Fed. Reg. 5243), shall be 
     modified to exclude the lands identified in subsection (c).

     SEC. 3. LEGAL DESCRIPTIONS.

       (a) Preparation of Legal Descriptions.--As soon as 
     practicable following receipt of written confirmation from 
     the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that the land is suitable 
     for cemetery purposes, the Secretary of the Interior shall 
     publish in the Federal Register a notice containing the legal 
     descriptions of the public lands withdrawn, deemed property, 
     and transferred under section 2(b).
       (b) Legal Effect.--The legal descriptions prepared under 
     subsection (a) shall have the same force and effect as if the 
     legal descriptions were included in this Act, except that the 
     Secretary of the Interior may correct any clerical and 
     typographical errors in the legal descriptions.
       (c) Availability.--Copies of the map referred to in section 
     2(c) and the legal descriptions prepared under subsection (a) 
     shall be available for public inspection in the appropriate 
     offices of--
       (1) the Bureau of Land Management; and
       (2) the National Cemetery Administration.
       (d) Costs.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
     reimburse the Secretary of the Interior for reasonable costs 
     incurred by the Secretary of the Interior in implementing 
     this section, including the costs of any surveys.

     SEC. 4. RESTORATION TO PUBLIC LANDS FOR NON-CEMETERY USE.

       (a) Notice and Effect.--Upon a determination by the 
     Secretary of Veterans Affairs that all or a portion of the 
     lands withdrawn, deemed property, and transferred under 
     section 2 shall not be used for cemetery purposes, the 
     Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall notify the Secretary of 
     the Interior of such determination. Subject to subsections 
     (b) and (c), the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall transfer 
     administrative jurisdiction of the lands subject to such 
     notice to the Secretary of the Interior.
       (b) Decontamination.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
     shall be responsible for costs of any decontamination of the 
     lands resulting from contamination on the lands withdrawn, 
     deemed property, and transferred under section 2(b) while the 
     Secretary of Veterans Affairs exercised jurisdiction over 
     those lands subject to a notice under subsection (a) 
     determined by the Secretary of the Interior to be necessary 
     for the lands to be restored to the public lands.
       (c) Restoration to the Public Lands.--The lands subject to 
     a notice under subsection (a) shall only be restored to the 
     public lands upon acceptance by the Secretary of the Interior 
     and a determination by the Secretary of the Interior that 
     such lands are suitable for restoration to the public lands

[[Page H986]]

     and operation of one or more of the public land laws.
       (d) Opening Order.--If the Secretary of the Interior 
     accepts the lands subject to such a notice and determines 
     that the lands are suitable for restoration, in whole or in 
     part, the Secretary of the Interior may open the lands to 
     operation of one or more of the public land laws and may 
     issue an order to that effect.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Colorado (Mr. Lamborn) and the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Polis) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Lamborn).


                             General Leave

  Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to 
include extraneous materials on the bill under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Colorado?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I rise in strong support of H.R. 337, the Black Hills National 
Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Kristi Noem 
of South Dakota.
  This bill expands the Black Hills National Cemetery, outside of 
Sturgis, South Dakota, by permanently transferring the jurisdictional 
authority of approximately 200 acres of undeveloped Federal land from 
the Bureau of Land Management to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  Originally opened in 1948, the cemetery now houses a memorial 
carillon, a memorial to Korean war veterans, and is the final resting 
place of many notable veterans, including Medal of Honor recipient 
Sergeant Charles Windolph. With its existing acreage, the cemetery can 
only accommodate a finite number of additional burials. Transferring 
jurisdiction of the land from the BLM to the VA will provide space for 
hundreds of additional grave sites for future generations of American 
veterans. Without the transfer, the National Cemetery Administration 
will be forced to close the cemetery to further burials in the very 
near future.
  This is a commonsense piece of legislation that will ensure that the 
Black Hills National Cemetery can continue to provide proper burial 
sites and final resting places for America's fallen heroes.
  At this point, I include in the Record an exchange of letters with 
Chairman Roe of the Veterans' Affairs Committee regarding this bill. I 
thank him for helping to expedite the consideration of this bill today.
  I commend Representative Noem for working closely with both the BLM 
and the VA on this issue, and I urge the adoption of the measure.
  I reserve the balance of my time.

                                         House of Representatives,


                               Committee on Veterans' Affairs,

                                 Washington, DC, February 1, 2017.
     Hon. Rob Bishop,
     Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. Chairman: I am writing to you concerning H.R. 337, 
     the Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act. 
     There are certain provisions in the legislation which fall 
     within the Rule X jurisdiction of the Committee on Veterans' 
     Affairs.
       In the interest of permitting your committee to proceed 
     expeditiously to floor consideration of this important bill, 
     I am willing to waive this committee's right to sequential 
     referral. I do so with the understanding that by waiving 
     consideration of the bill, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs 
     does not waive any future jurisdictional claim over the 
     subject matters contained in the bill which fall within its 
     Rule X jurisdiction. I request that you urge the Speaker to 
     name members of this committee to any conference committee 
     which is named to consider such provisions.
       Please place this letter into the committee report on H.R. 
     337 and into the Congressional Record during consideration of 
     the measure on the House floor. Thank you.
           Sincerely,
                                               David P. Roe, M.D.,
     Chairman.
                                  ____

                                         House of Representatives,


                               Committee on Natural Resources,

                                 Washington, DC, February 2, 2017.
     Hon. David P. Roe, M.D.,
     Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. Chairman: H.R. 337. the Black Hills National 
     Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act, was introduced on January 5, 
     2017. The bill was referred primarily to the Committee on 
     Natural Resources, with an additional referral to the 
     Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
       I thank you for allowing the Committee on Veterans' Affairs 
     to be discharged from further consideration of the bill so 
     that it may be scheduled by the Majority Leader. This 
     discharge in no way affects your jurisdiction over the 
     subject matter of the bill, and it will not serve as 
     precedent for future referrals. In addition, should a 
     conference on the bill be necessary, I would support having 
     the Committee on Veterans' Affairs represented on the 
     conference committee. Finally, to memorialize our 
     understanding, I would be pleased to include your letter and 
     this response in the Congressional Record when the bill is 
     considered by the House.
       Thank you for your response and cooperation. I look forward 
     to further opportunities to work with you this Congress.
           Sincerely,
                                                       Rob Bishop,
                         Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources.

  Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  This bill provides the Veterans Administration with 200 acres of 
Federal land, which are currently managed by the Bureau of Land 
Management, in order to expand the Black Hills National Cemetery.
  National cemeteries are reserved for the brave men and women who make 
the ultimate personal sacrifice while serving in the military in 
defense of our freedom, and it is important that we have the sufficient 
space to meet all of those interment requests. These heroes have served 
our country and deserve to permanently rest in a cemetery that honors 
their sacrifice and commitment to the ideals that hold us together as a 
nation.
  With respect to the Black Hills National Cemetery specifically, the 
BLM and the VA determined that only Congress can provide the permanent 
jurisdiction transfer that is needed for this particular expansion; 
thus, we are considering this bill and, after passage, are encouraging 
our friends in the Senate to do the same.
  Of course, this bill represents a small fraction of the ways we can 
support our veterans and need to support our veterans to demonstrate 
our appreciation for those who have served. We need to improve access 
to education and job training. We need to increase funding and raise 
the bar on accountability for the Department of Veterans Affairs. We 
should work to shorten wait times at VA hospitals by allowing nurses to 
practice to the full extent of their licensure to ensure quality care 
in a quicker way at a reasonable cost, and there are many other things 
we need to do to make sure that those who proudly put their lives on 
the line--or in this case, who have paid the ultimate price to protect 
our freedom--and their families and loved ones are cared for by this 
country in recognition of their sacrifice.
  I do believe this simple change in land ownership will have an impact 
by providing the men and women who have bravely served a final resting 
place. Expanding the Black Hills National Cemetery is a noble and 
worthy cause that deserves our support.
  I thank my colleague from South Dakota for bringing this issue 
forward and for her hard work in guiding this bill through Congress. I 
urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Colorado for his 
gracious remarks.
  I yield such time as she may consume to the gentlewoman from the 
great State of South Dakota (Mrs. Noem), who is working hard for the 
people of her State.
  Mrs. NOEM. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 337, the Black Hills National 
Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act.
  I thank the chairman of the committee and his staff for working so 
hard to move this bill through Congress. Their support means so much to 
our veterans and to their families.
  Those who have served and those families who have sacrificed beside 
them deserve our Nation's eternal gratitude. Since 1948, the Black 
Hills National Cemetery has been one way that we have shown that 
appreciation to them. The cemetery currently covers about 100 acres of 
land and is home to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Its peaceful 
landscape serves as the final resting place for hundreds of 
servicemembers and their family members.

[[Page H987]]

  Chief David Beautiful Bald Eagle is among the brave men and women 
buried here. Born in a tepee in 1919, Chief Bald Eagle served our 
country in World War II as a paratrooper and as one of the legendary 
Lakota code talkers. We lost him last summer, but his life continues to 
be an inspiration to the Lakota people and those who knew him.
  Brigadier General Richard E. Ellsworth was also laid to rest there. 
He was a man who flew 400 combat missions during World War II. He 
earned numerous medals and returned to the U.S., where he eventually 
became wing commander of the Rapid City Air Force Base. In 1953, that 
base was renamed in his honor.
  The surrounding community also does its part to honor this hallowed 
ground. On a brisk day this past December, Pennington County 4-H, the 
Sturgis Boy Scouts, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, and 
community members came together and placed over 1,000 wreaths on the 
graves of servicemembers who were laid to rest at this cemetery. They 
upheld the vow that those laid to rest should never be forgotten. Now 
we must do our part to uphold that very same vow.
  So we honor the legacy of these veterans and many others at the Black 
Hills National Cemetery, but the facility is not going to have the room 
it needs to continue serving future veterans without expansion. This 
bill would allow that expansion by transferring around 200 acres of 
adjacent land near Sturgis, South Dakota, from the Bureau of Land 
Management's jurisdiction to the Department of Veterans Affairs. My 
office worked with these agencies and the stakeholders in crafting this 
legislation, and all agreed that this land transfer is necessary.
  The transfer of this land will provide the Black Hills National 
Cemetery with the additional burial space that is needed to assure that 
today's veterans and servicemembers, as well as their families, will be 
able to utilize the space and that we will be able to uphold our 
commitment and offer this Nation's eternal gratitude for everything 
that they have done for us.
  Again, I thank the committee, my colleagues, and the chairman for 
supporting this bill. I urge a ``yes'' vote.
  Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill 
that supports our veterans.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Speaker, I urge the adoption of this bill.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Lamborn) that the House suspend the rules 
and pass the bill, H.R. 337.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this motion will be postponed.

                          ____________________