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107th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                     107-27

======================================================================



 
                   VETERANS OPPORTUNITIES ACT OF 2001

                                _______
                                

 March 26, 2001.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Smith of New Jersey, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 801]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 801) to amend title 38, United States Code, to 
improve programs of educational assistance, to expand programs 
of transition assistance and outreach to departing 
servicemembers, veterans, and dependents, to increase burial 
benefits, to provide for family coverage under Servicemembers' 
Group Life Insurance, and for other purposes, having considered 
the same, reports favorably thereon with an amendment and 
recommends that the bill as amended do pass.

  The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

  (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Veterans 
Opportunities Act of 2001''.
  (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--EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROVISIONS

Sec. 101. Increase in maximum allowable annual Senior ROTC educational 
assistance for eligibility for benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill.
Sec. 102. Expansion of work-study opportunities.
Sec. 103. Inclusion of certain private technology entities in the 
definition of educational institution.
Sec. 104. Expansion of special restorative training benefit to certain 
disabled spouses or surviving spouses.
Sec. 105. Distance education.
Sec. 106. Technical amendments to the Montgomery GI Bill.

              TITLE II--TRANSITION AND OUTREACH PROVISIONS

Sec. 201. Authority to establish overseas veterans assistance offices 
to expand transition assistance.
Sec. 202. Timing of preseparation counseling.
Sec. 203. Improvement in education and training outreach services for 
separating servicemembers and veterans.
Sec. 204. Expansion of outreach efforts to eligible dependents.
Sec. 205. Improvement of veterans outreach programs.

      TITLE III--MEMORIAL AFFAIRS, INSURANCE, AND OTHER PROVISIONS

Sec. 301. Increase in burial benefits.
Sec. 302. Family coverage under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance.
Sec. 303. Retroactive applicability of increase in maximum SGLI benefit 
for members dying in performance of duty on or after October 1, 2000.
Sec. 304. Increase in amount of assistance for automobile and adaptive 
equipment for certain disabled veterans.
Sec. 305. Increase in assistance amount for specially adapted housing.
Sec. 306. Revision of rules with respect to net worth limitation for 
eligibility for pensions for veterans who are permanently and totally 
disabled from a non-service-connected disability.
Sec. 307. Technical 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--EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROVISIONS

SEC. 101. INCREASE IN MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE ANNUAL SENIOR ROTC EDUCATIONAL 
                    ASSISTANCE FOR ELIGIBILITY FOR BENEFITS UNDER THE 
                    MONTGOMERY GI BILL.

  (a) In General.--Sections 3011(c)(3)(B) and 3012(d)(3)(B) are each 
amended by striking ``$2,000'' and inserting ``$3,400''.
  (b) Effective Date.--The amendments made by subsection (a) shall take 
effect on the date of the enactment of this Act and shall apply with 
respect to educational assistance allowances paid under chapter 30 of 
title 38, United States Code, for months beginning after such date.

SEC. 102. EXPANSION OF WORK-STUDY OPPORTUNITIES.

  (a) Assisting in Outreach Services.--The second sentence of section 
3485(a)(1) is amended in clause (A) by inserting before the comma the 
following: ``or outreach services to servicemembers and veterans 
furnished by employees of State approving agencies''.
  (b) Working in Major Academic Discipline.--Such sentence is further 
amended--
          (1) by striking ``or (E)'' and inserting ``(E)''; and
          (2) by inserting before the period the following: ``, or (F) 
        in the case of an individual who has declared a major academic 
        discipline, activities within the department of that academic 
        discipline approved by the Secretary that complement and 
        reinforce the program of education pursued by that 
        individual''.
  (c) Working in State Veterans Home.--Such sentence is amended in 
clause (C) by inserting after the comma ``including the provision of 
such care to veterans in a State home for which payment is made under 
section 1741 of this title,''.
  (d) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall apply 
with respect to agreements entered into under section 3485 of title 38, 
United States Code, on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 103. INCLUSION OF CERTAIN PRIVATE TECHNOLOGY ENTITIES IN THE 
                    DEFINITION OF EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION.

  (a) In General.--Sections 3452(c) and 3501(a)(6) are each amended by 
adding at the end the following new sentence: ``Such term also includes 
any private entity (that meets such requirements as the Secretary may 
establish) that offers, either directly or under an agreement with 
another entity (that meets such requirements), a course or courses to 
fulfill requirements for the attainment of a license or certificate 
generally recognized as necessary to obtain, maintain, or advance in 
employment in a profession or vocation in a technological occupation 
(as determined by the Secretary).''.
  (b) Effective Date.--The amendments made by subsection (a) shall 
apply to enrollments in courses occurring on or after the date of the 
enactment of this Act.

SEC. 104. EXPANSION OF SPECIAL RESTORATIVE TRAINING BENEFIT TO CERTAIN 
                    DISABLED SPOUSES OR SURVIVING SPOUSES.

  (a) In General.--Section 3540 is amended by striking ``section 
3501(a)(1)(A) of this title'' and inserting ``subparagraphs (A), (B), 
and (D) of section 3501(a)(1) of this title''.
  (b) Conforming Amendments.--(1) Section 3541(a) is amended in the 
matter preceding paragraph (1) by striking ``of the parent or 
guardian''.
  (2) Section 3542(a) is amended--
          (A) by striking ``the parent or guardian shall be entitled to 
        receive on behalf of such person'' and inserting ``the eligible 
        person shall be entitled to receive''; and
          (B) by striking ``upon election by the parent or guardian of 
        the eligible person'' and inserting ``upon election by the 
        eligible person''.
  (3) Section 3543(a) is amended by striking ``the parent or guardian 
for the training provided to an eligible person'' and inserting ``for 
the training provided to the eligible person''.
  (4) Section 3543 is amended by adding at the end the following new 
subsection:
  ``(c) In a case in which the Secretary determines requires a parent 
or guardian to make a request under section 3541(a) of this title on 
behalf of an eligible person, the parent or guardian shall be 
entitled--
          ``(1) to receive on behalf of the eligible person the special 
        training allowance provided for under section 3542(a) of this 
        title;
          ``(2) to elect an increase in the basic monthly allowance 
        provided for under such section; and
          ``(3) to agree with the Secretary on the fair and reasonable 
        amounts which may be charged under subsection (a).''.

SEC. 105. DISTANCE EDUCATION.

  (a) In General.--Subsection (a)(4) of section 3680A is amended--
          (1) by inserting ``(A)'' after ``leading''; and
          (2) by inserting before the period the following: ``, or (B) 
        to a certificate that reflects educational attainment offered 
        by an institution of higher learning''.
  (b) Effective Date.--The amendments made by subsection (a) shall 
apply to enrollments in independent study courses beginning on or after 
the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 106. TECHNICAL AMENDMENTS TO THE MONTGOMERY GI BILL.

  (a) Clarification of Eligibility Requirement for MGIB Benefits.--
          (1) In general.--Clause (i) of section 3011(a)(1)(A) is 
        amended to read as follows:
                          ``(i) who (I) in the case of an individual 
                        whose obligated period of active duty is three 
                        years or more, serves at least three years of 
                        continuous active duty in the Armed Forces, or 
                        (II) in the case of an individual whose 
                        obligated period of active duty is less than 
                        three years, serves at least two years of 
                        continuous active duty in the Armed Forces; 
                        or''.
          (2) Effective date.--The amendment made by paragraph (1) 
        shall take effect as if included in the enactment of the 
        Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2000 
        (Public Law 106-419).
  (b) Entitlement Charge for Off-Duty Training and Education.--
          (1) In general.--Section 3014(b)(2) is amended--
                  (A) in subparagraph (A), by striking ``(without 
                regard to'' and all that follows through 
                ``subsection''; and
                  (B) by adding at the end the following new 
                subparagraph:
  ``(C) The number of months of entitlement charged under this chapter 
in the case of an individual who has been paid a basic educational 
assistance allowance under this subsection shall be equal to the number 
(including any fraction) determined by dividing the total amount of 
such educational assistance allowance paid the individual by the full-
time monthly institutional rate of educational assistance which such 
individual would otherwise be paid under subsection (a)(1), (b)(1), 
(c)(1), or (e)(1) of section 3015 of this title, as the case may be.''.
          (2) Conforming amendments.--(A) Section 3015 is amended--
                  (i) in subsections (a)(1) and (b)(1), by inserting 
                ``subsection (g)'' after ``from time to time under'';
                  (ii) by striking the first subsection (g), as 
                inserted by section 1602(b)(3)(C) of the Floyd D. 
                Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 
                Year 2001 (enacted by Public Law 106-398; 114 Stat. 
                1654A-359); and
                  (iii) by redesignating subsection (h) as subsection 
                (g).
          (B) Section 3032(b) is amended by inserting before the period 
        at the end the following: ``, or (3) the amount of the charges 
        of the educational institution elected by the individual under 
        section 3014(b)(1) of this title''.
          (3) Effective date.--The amendments made by this subsection 
        shall take effect as if enacted on November 1, 2000.
  (c) Incremental MGIB Increases for Contributing Active Duty 
Members.--
          (1) In general.--Section 3011(e), as added by section 
        105(a)(1) of the Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement 
        Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-419; 114 Stat. 1828), is amended--
                  (A) in paragraph (2), by inserting ``, but not more 
                frequently than monthly'' before the period;
                  (B) in paragraph (3), by striking ``$4'' and 
                inserting ``$20''; and
                  (C) in paragraph (4)--
                          (i) by striking ``Secretary. The'' and 
                        inserting ``Secretary of the military 
                        department concerned. That''; and
                          (ii) by striking ``by the Secretary''.
          (2) Conforming amendments.--(A) Section 3012(f), as added by 
        section 105(a)(2) of such Act, is amended--
                  (i) in paragraph (2), by inserting ``, but not more 
                frequently than monthly'' before the period;
                  (ii) in paragraph (3), by striking ``$4'' and 
                inserting ``$20''; and
                  (iii) in paragraph (4)--
                          (I) by striking ``Secretary. The'' and 
                        inserting ``Secretary of the military 
                        department concerned. That''; and
                          (II) by striking ``by the Secretary''.
          (B) Section 3015(g), as added by section 105(b)(3) of such 
        Act, is amended--
                  (i) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by 
                inserting ``effective as of the first day of the 
                enrollment period following receipt of such 
                contribution by the Secretary concerned,'' after ``by 
                section 3011(e) or 3012(f) of this title,''; and
                  (ii) in paragraph (1)--
                          (I) by striking ``$1'' and inserting ``$5'';
                          (II) by striking ``$4'' and inserting 
                        ``$20''; and
                          (III) by inserting ``of this title'' after 
                        ``section 3011(e) or 3012(f)''.
          (3) Effective date.--The amendments made by this subsection 
        shall take effect as if included in the enactment of section 
        105 of the Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 
        2000 (Public Law 106-419; 114 Stat. 1828).
  (d) Conforming Amendment for Death Benefit.--
          (1) In general.--Paragraph (1) of section 3017(b) is amended 
        to read as follows:
          ``(1) the sum of (A) the total amount reduced from the 
        individual's basic pay under section 3011(b), 3012(c), or 
        3018(c) of this title, and (B) the total amount of any 
        contributions made by the individual under section 3011(e) or 
        3012(f) of this title, less''.
          (2) Effective date.--The amendment made by paragraph (1) 
        shall take effect on May 1, 2001.
  (e) Clarification of Time Period for Election of Beginning of Chapter 
35 Eligibility for Dependents.--
          (1) In general.--(A) Section 3512(a)(3)(B), as amended by 
        section 112 of the Veterans Benefits and Health Care 
        Improvement Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-419; 114 Stat. 1831), 
        is amended to read as follows:
                  ``(B) the eligible person elects that beginning date 
                by not later than the end of the 60-day period 
                beginning on the date on which the Secretary provides 
                written notice to that person of that person's 
                opportunity to make such election, such notice 
                including a statement of the deadline for the election 
                imposed under this subparagraph; and''.
          (B) Section 3512(a)(3)(C), as so amended by such section, is 
        amended by striking ``between the dates described in'' and 
        inserting ``the date determined pursuant to''.
          (2) Effective date.--The amendments made by paragraph (1) 
        shall take effect as if enacted on November 1, 2000.

              TITLE II--TRANSITION AND OUTREACH PROVISIONS

SEC. 201. AUTHORITY TO ESTABLISH OVERSEAS VETERANS ASSISTANCE OFFICES 
                    TO EXPAND TRANSITION ASSISTANCE.

  Section 7723(a) is amended by inserting after the first sentence the 
following new sentence: ``The Secretary may maintain such offices on 
such military installations located elsewhere as the Secretary, after 
consultation with the Secretary of Defense, determines to be necessary 
to carry out such purposes.''.

SEC. 202. TIMING OF PRESEPARATION COUNSELING.

  (a) In General.--(1) The first sentence of section 1142(a)(1) of 
title 10, United States Code, is amended to read as follows: ``Within 
the time periods specified in paragraph (3), the Secretary concerned 
shall (except as provided in paragraph (4)) provide for individual 
preseparation counseling of each member of the armed forces whose 
discharge or release from active duty is anticipated as of a specific 
date.''.
  (2) Such section is further amended by adding at the end the 
following new paragraphs:
  ``(3)(A) In the case of an anticipated retirement, preseparation 
counseling shall commence as soon as possible during the 24-month 
period preceding the anticipated retirement date. In the case of a 
separation other than a retirement, preseparation counseling shall 
commence as soon as possible during the 12-month period preceding the 
anticipated date. Except as provided in subparagraph (B), in no event 
shall preseparation counseling commence later than 90 days before the 
date of discharge or release.
  ``(B) In the event that a retirement or other separation is 
unanticipated until there are 90 or fewer days before the anticipated 
retirement or separation date, preseparation counseling shall begin as 
soon as possible within the remaining period of service.
  ``(4)(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), the Secretary concerned shall 
not provide preseparation counseling to a member who is being 
discharged or released before the completion of that member's first 180 
days of active duty.
  ``(B) Subparagraph (A) shall not apply in the case of a member who is 
being retired or separated for disability.''.
  (b) Conforming Amendment.--The second sentence of section 1144(a)(1) 
of title 10, United States Code, is amended by striking ``during the 
180-day period'' and all that follows and inserting ``within the time 
periods provided under paragraph (3) of section 1142(a) of this title, 
except that the Secretary concerned shall not provide preseparation 
counseling to a member described in paragraph (4)(A) of such 
section.''.

SEC. 203. IMPROVEMENT IN EDUCATION AND TRAINING OUTREACH SERVICES FOR 
                    SEPARATING SERVICEMEMBERS AND VETERANS.

  (a) Providing Outreach Through State Approving Agencies.--Section 
3672(d) is amended by inserting ``and State approving agencies'' before 
``shall actively promote the development of programs of training on the 
job''.
  (b) Additional Duty.--Such section is further amended--
          (1) by inserting ``(1)'' after ``(d)''; and
          (2) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
  ``(2) In conjunction with outreach services furnished by the 
Secretary for education and training benefits under chapter 77 of this 
title, each State approving agency shall conduct outreach programs and 
provide outreach services to eligible persons and veterans about 
education and training benefits available under applicable Federal and 
State law.''.

SEC. 204. EXPANSION OF OUTREACH EFFORTS TO ELIGIBLE DEPENDENTS.

  (a) Availability of Outreach Services for Children, Spouses, 
Surviving Spouses, and Dependent Parents.--Paragraph (2) of section 
7721(b) is amended to read as follows:
          ``(2) the term `eligible dependent' means a spouse, surviving 
        spouse, child, or dependent parent of a person who served in 
        the active military, naval, or air service.''.
  (b) Improved Outreach Program.--(1) Subchapter II of chapter 77 is 
amended by adding at the end the following new section:

``Sec. 7727. Outreach for eligible dependents

  ``(a) In carrying out this subchapter, the Secretary shall ensure 
that the needs of eligible dependents are fully addressed.
  ``(b) The Secretary shall ensure that the availability of outreach 
services and assistance for eligible dependents under this subchapter 
is made known through a variety of means, including the Internet, 
announcements in veterans publications, and announcements to the 
media.''.
  (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended 
by inserting after the item relating to section 7726 the following new 
item:

``7727. Outreach for eligible dependents.''.

SEC. 205. IMPROVEMENT OF VETERANS OUTREACH PROGRAMS.

  Section 7722(c) is amended--
          (1) by inserting ``(1)'' after ``(c)''; and
          (2) by adding at the end the following:
  ``(2) Whenever a veteran or dependent first applies for any benefit 
under laws administered by the Secretary (including a request for 
burial or related benefits or an application for life insurance 
proceeds), the Secretary shall provide to the veteran or dependent 
information concerning benefits and health care services under programs 
administered by the Secretary.''.

      TITLE III--MEMORIAL AFFAIRS, INSURANCE, AND OTHER PROVISIONS

SEC. 301. INCREASE IN BURIAL BENEFITS.

  (a) Burial and Funeral Expenses.--(1) Section 2307 is amended by 
striking ``$1,500'' and inserting ``$2,000 (as increased from time to 
time under section 5312 of this title)''.
  (2) Section 2302(a) is amended by striking ``$300'' and inserting 
``$500 (as increased from time to time under section 5312 of this 
title)''.
  (3) Section 2303(a)(1)(A) is amended by striking ``$300'' and 
inserting ``$500 (as increased from time to time under section 5312 of 
this title)''.
  (b) Plot Allowance.--Section 2303(b) is amended by striking ``$150'' 
each place it appears and inserting ``$300 (as increased from time to 
time under section 5312 of this title)''.
  (c) Indexing Payment Amounts.--Section 5312(a) is amended--
          (1) by striking ``and each rate of monthly allowance'' and 
        inserting ``each rate of monthly allowance''; and
          (2) by inserting ``and each rate of allowance paid under 
        sections 2302, 2303, and 2307 of this title,'' after ``under 
        section 1805 of this title,''.
  (d) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall apply 
to deaths occurring on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 302. FAMILY COVERAGE UNDER SERVICEMEMBERS' GROUP LIFE INSURANCE.

  (a) Insurable Dependents.--(1) Section 1965 is amended by adding at 
the end the following new paragraph:
          ``(10) The term `insurable dependent', with respect to a 
        member, means the following:
                  ``(A) The member's spouse.
                  ``(B) The member's child, as defined in the first 
                sentence of section 101(4)(A) of this title.''.
  (2) Section 101(4)(A) is amended in the matter preceding clause (i) 
by inserting ``(other than with respect to a child who is an insurable 
dependent under section 1965(10)(B) of such chapter)'' after ``except 
for purposes of chapter 19 of this title''.
  (b) Insurance Coverage.--(1) Subsection (a) of section 1967 is 
amended to read as follows:
  ``(a)(1) Subject to an election under paragraph (2), any policy of 
insurance purchased by the Secretary under section 1966 of this title 
shall automatically insure the following persons against death:
          ``(A) In the case of any member of a uniformed service on 
        active duty (other than active duty for training)--
                  ``(i) the member; and
                  ``(ii) each insurable dependent of the member.
          ``(B) Any member of a uniformed service on active duty for 
        training or inactive duty training scheduled in advance by 
        competent authority.
          ``(C) In the case of any member of the Ready Reserve of a 
        uniformed service who meets the qualifications set forth in 
        section 1965(5)(B) of this title--
                  ``(i) the member; and
                  ``(ii) each insurable dependent of the member.
  ``(2)(A) A member may elect in writing not to be insured under this 
subchapter.
  ``(B) A member may elect in writing not to insure the member's spouse 
under this subchapter.
  ``(3)(A) Subject to subparagraphs (B) and (C), the amount for which a 
person is insured under this subchapter is as follows:
          ``(i) In the case of a member, $250,000.
          ``(ii) In the case of a member's spouse, $100,000.
          ``(iii) In the case of a member's child, $10,000.
  ``(B) A member may elect in writing to be insured or to insure the 
member's spouse in an amount less than the amount provided for under 
subparagraph (A). The member may not elect to insure the member's child 
in an amount less than $10,000. The amount of insurance so elected 
shall, in the case of a member or spouse, be evenly divisible by 
$10,000.
  ``(C) In no case may the amount of insurance coverage under this 
subsection of a member's spouse exceed the amount of insurance coverage 
of the member.
  ``(4)(A) An insurable dependent of a member is not insured under this 
chapter unless the member is insured under this subchapter.
  ``(B) An insurable dependent who is a child may not be insured at any 
time by the insurance coverage under this chapter of more than one 
member. If an insurable dependent who is a child is otherwise eligible 
to be insured by the coverage of more than one member under this 
chapter, the child shall be insured by the coverage of the member whose 
eligibility for insurance under this subchapter occurred first, except 
that if that member does not have legal custody of the child, the child 
shall be insured by the coverage of the member who has legal custody of 
the child.
  ``(5) The insurance shall be effective with respect to a member and 
the insurable dependents of the member on the latest of the following 
dates:
          ``(A) The first day of active duty or active duty for 
        training.
          ``(B) The beginning of a period of inactive duty training 
        scheduled in advance by competent authority.
          ``(C) The first day a member of the Ready Reserve meets the 
        qualifications set forth in section 1965(5)(B) of this title.
          ``(D) The date certified by the Secretary to the Secretary 
        concerned as the date Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance 
        under this subchapter for the class or group concerned takes 
        effect.
          ``(E) In the case of an insurable dependent who is a spouse, 
        the date of marriage of the spouse to the member.
          ``(F) In the case of an insurable dependent who is a child, 
        the date of birth of such child or, if the child is not the 
        natural child of the member, the date on which the child 
        acquires status as an insurable dependent of the member.''.
  (2) Subsection (c) of such section is amended by striking the first 
sentence and inserting the following: ``If a person eligible for 
insurance under this subchapter is not so insured, or is insured for 
less than the maximum amount provided for the person under subparagraph 
(A) of subsection (a)(3), by reason of an election made by a member 
under subparagraph (B) of that subsection, the person may thereafter be 
insured under this subchapter in the maximum amount or any lesser 
amount elected as provided in such subparagraph (B) upon written 
application by the member, proof of good health of each person (other 
than a child) to be so insured, and compliance with such other terms 
and conditions as may be prescribed by the Secretary.''.
  (c) Termination of Coverage.--(1) Subsection (a) of section 1968 is 
amended--
          (A) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by inserting ``and 
        any insurance thereunder on any insurable dependent of such a 
        member,'' after ``any insurance thereunder on any member of the 
        uniformed services,''; and
          (B) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
          ``(5) With respect to an insurable dependent of the member, 
        insurance under this subchapter shall cease--
                  ``(A) 120 days after the date of an election made in 
                writing by the member to terminate the coverage; or
                  ``(B) on the earliest of--
                          ``(i) 120 days after the date of the member's 
                        death;
                          ``(ii) 120 days after the date of termination 
                        of the insurance on the member's life under 
                        this subchapter; or
                          ``(iii) 120 days after the termination of the 
                        dependent's status as an insurable dependent of 
                        the member.''.
  (2) Such subsection is further amended--
          (A) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking ``, 
        and such insurance shall cease--'' and inserting ``and such 
        insurance shall cease as follows:'';
          (B) by striking ``with'' after the paragraph designation in 
        each of paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4) and inserting 
        ``With'';
          (C) in paragraph (1)--
                  (i) in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by 
                striking ``thirty-one days--'' and inserting ``31 days, 
                insurance under this subchapter shall cease--'';
                  (ii) in subparagraph (A)--
                          (I) by striking ``one hundred and twenty 
                        days'' after ``(A)'' and inserting ``120 
                        days''; and
                          (II) by striking ``prior to the expiration of 
                        one hundred and twenty days'' and inserting 
                        ``before the end of 120 days''; and
                  (iii) by striking the semicolon at the end of 
                subparagraph (B) and inserting a period;
          (D) in paragraph (2)--
                  (i) by striking ``thirty-one days'' and inserting 
                ``31 days,'';
                  (ii) by striking ``one hundred and twenty days'' both 
                places it appears and inserting ``120 days''; and
                  (iii) by striking the semicolon at the end and 
                inserting a period;
          (E) in paragraph (3)--
                  (i) by inserting a comma after ``competent 
                authority''
                  (ii) by striking ``one hundred and twenty days'' both 
                places it appears and inserting ``120 days''; and
                  (iii) by striking ``; and'' at the end and inserting 
                a period; and
          (F) in paragraph (4), by inserting ``insurance under this 
        subchapter shall cease'' before ``120 days after '' the first 
        place it appears.
  (3) Subsection (b)(1)(A) of such section is amended by inserting 
``(to insure against death of the member only)'' after ``converted to 
Veterans' Group Life Insurance''.
  (d) Premiums.--Section 1969 is amended by adding at the end the 
following new subsections:
  ``(g)(1)(A) During any period in which a spouse of a member is 
insured under this subchapter and the member is on active duty, there 
shall be deducted each month from the member's basic or other pay until 
separation or release from active duty an amount determined by the 
Secretary as the premium allocable to the pay period for providing that 
insurance coverage. No premium may be charged for providing insurance 
coverage for a child.
  ``(B) During any month in which a member is assigned to the Ready 
Reserve of a uniformed service under conditions which meet the 
qualifications set forth in section 1965(5)(B) of this title and the 
spouse of the member is insured under a policy of insurance purchased 
by the Secretary under section 1966 of this title, there shall be 
contributed from the appropriation made for active duty pay of the 
uniformed service concerned an amount determined by the Secretary 
(which shall be the same for all such members) as the share of the cost 
attributable to insuring the spouse of such member under this policy, 
less any costs traceable to the extra hazards of such duty in the 
uniformed services. Any amounts so contributed on behalf of any 
individual shall be collected by the Secretary concerned from such 
individual (by deduction from pay or otherwise) and shall be credited 
to the appropriation from which such contribution was made.
  ``(2)(A) The Secretary shall determine the premium amounts to be 
charged for life insurance coverage for spouses of members under this 
subchapter.
  ``(B) The premium amounts shall be determined on the basis of sound 
actuarial principles and shall include an amount necessary to cover the 
administrative costs to the insurer or insurers providing such 
insurance.
  ``(C) Each premium rate for the first policy year shall be continued 
for subsequent policy years, except that the rate may be adjusted for 
any such subsequent policy year on the basis of the experience under 
the policy, as determined by the Secretary in advance of that policy 
year.
  ``(h) Any overpayment of a premium for insurance coverage for an 
insurable dependent of a member that is terminated under section 
1968(a)(5) of this title shall be refunded to the member.''.
  (e) Payments of Insurance Proceeds.--Section 1970 is amended by 
adding at the end the following new subsection:
  ``(i) Any amount of insurance in force on an insurable dependent of a 
member under this subchapter on the date of the dependent's death shall 
be paid, upon the establishment of a valid claim therefor, to the 
member or, in the event of the member's death before payment to the 
member can be made, then to the person or persons entitled to receive 
payment of the proceeds of insurance on the member's life under this 
subchapter.''.
  (f) Conversion of SGLI to Private Life Insurance.--Section 1968(b) is 
amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
  ``(3)(A) In the case of a policy purchased under this subchapter for 
an insurable dependent who is a spouse, upon election of the spouse, 
the policy may be converted to an individual policy of insurance under 
the same conditions as described in section 1977(e) of this title (with 
respect to conversion of a Veterans' Group Life Insurance policy to 
such an individual policy) upon written application for conversion made 
to the participating company selected by the spouse and payment of the 
required premiums. Conversion of such policy to Veterans' Group Life 
Insurance is prohibited.
  ``(B) In the case of a policy purchased under this subchapter for an 
insurable dependent who is a child, such policy may not be converted 
under this subsection.''.
  (g) Effective Date and Initial Implementation.--(1) The amendments 
made by this section shall take effect on the first day of the first 
month that begins more than 120 days after the date of the enactment of 
this Act.
  (2) Each Secretary concerned, acting in consultation with the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, shall take such action as is necessary 
to ensure that during the period between the date of the enactment of 
this Act and the effective date determined under paragraph (1) each 
eligible member--
          (A) is furnished an explanation of the insurance benefits 
        available for dependents under the amendments made by this 
        section; and
          (B) is afforded an opportunity before such effective date to 
        make elections that are authorized under those amendments to be 
        made with respect to dependents.
  (3) For purposes of paragraph (2):
          (A) The term ``Secretary concerned'' has the meaning given 
        that term in section 101 of title 38, United States Code.
          (B) The term ``eligible member'' means a member of the 
        uniformed services described in subparagraph (A) or (C) of 
        section 1967(a)(1) of title 38, United States Code, as amended 
        by subsection (b)(1).

SEC. 303. RETROACTIVE APPLICABILITY OF INCREASE IN MAXIMUM SGLI BENEFIT 
                    FOR MEMBERS DYING IN PERFORMANCE OF DUTY ON OR 
                    AFTER OCTOBER 1, 2000.

  (a) Applicability of Increase in Benefit.--Notwithstanding subsection 
(c) of section 312 of the Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement 
Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-419; 114 Stat. 1854), the amendments made 
by subsection (a) of that section shall take effect on October 1, 2000, 
with respect to any member of the Armed Forces who died in the 
performance of duty (as determined by the Secretary concerned) during 
the period beginning on October 1, 2000, and ending at the close of 
March 31, 2001, and who on the date of death was insured under the 
Servicemember's Group Life Insurance program under subchapter III of 
chapter 19 of title 38, United States Code, for the maximum coverage 
available under that program.
  (b) Definition.--For purposes of this section, the term ``Secretary 
concerned'' has the meaning given that term in section 101(25) of title 
38, United States Code.

SEC. 304. INCREASE IN AMOUNT OF ASSISTANCE FOR AUTOMOBILE AND ADAPTIVE 
                    EQUIPMENT FOR CERTAIN DISABLED VETERANS.

  Section 3902(a) is amended by striking ``$8,000'' and inserting 
``$9,000''.

SEC. 305. INCREASE IN ASSISTANCE AMOUNT FOR SPECIALLY ADAPTED HOUSING.

  Section 2102 is amended--
          (1) in the matter preceding paragraph (1) of subsection (a), 
        by striking ``$43,000'' and inserting ``$48,000''; and
          (2) in subsection (b)(2), by striking ``$8,250'' and 
        inserting ``$9,250''.

SEC. 306. REVISION OF RULES WITH RESPECT TO NET WORTH LIMITATION FOR 
                    ELIGIBILITY FOR PENSIONS FOR VETERANS WHO ARE 
                    PERMANENTLY AND TOTALLY DISABLED FROM A NON-
                    SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABILITY.

  (a) In General.--Section 1522(a) is amended by adding at the end the 
following new sentence: ``In determining the corpus of the estates of 
the veteran and the veteran's spouse, if any, the value of the real 
property of the veteran and the veteran's spouse and children shall be 
excluded if such property is used for farming, ranching, or similar 
agricultural purposes.''.
  (b) Effective Date.--The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply 
to payment of pensions for months beginning on or after the date of the 
enactment of this Act.

SEC. 307. TECHNICAL AMENDMENTS.

  (a) Title 38, United States Code.--Title 38, United States Code, is 
amended as follows:
          (1) Effective as of November 1, 2000, section 107 is 
        amended--
                  (A) in the second sentence of subsection (a), by 
                inserting ``or (d)'' after ``subsection (c)'';
                  (B) by redesignating the second subsection (c) (added 
                by section 332(a)(2) of the Veterans Benefits and 
                Health Care Improvement Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-
                419)) as subsection (d); and
                  (C) in subsection (d), as so redesignated, by 
                striking ``In'' in paragraph (1) and inserting ``With 
                respect to benefits under chapter 23 of this title, 
                in''.
          (2) Section 3512 is amended--
                  (A) in subsection (a)(5), by striking ``clause (4) of 
                this subsection'' and inserting ``paragraph (4)''; and
                  (B) in subsection (b)(2), by striking ``willfull'' 
                and inserting ``willful''.
          (3) Section 4303(13) is amended by striking the second period 
        at the end.
  (b) Public Law 106-419.--Effective as of November 1, 2000, and as if 
included therein as originally enacted, the Veterans Benefits and 
Health Care Improvement Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-419) is amended as 
follows:
          (1) Section 111(f)(3) (114 Stat. 1831) is amended by striking 
        ``3654'' and inserting ``3564''.
          (2) Section 323(a)(1) (114 Stat. 1855) is amended by 
        inserting a comma in the second quoted matter therein after 
        ``duty''.
          (3) Section 401(e)(1) (114 Stat. 1860) is amended by striking 
        ``this'' both places it appears in quoted matter and inserting 
        ``This''.
          (4) Section 402(b) (114 Stat. 1861) is amended by striking 
        the close quotation marks and period at the end of the table in 
        paragraph (2) of the matter inserted by the amendment made that 
        section.
  (c) Public Law 102-590.--Section 3(a)(1) of the Homeless Veterans 
Comprehensive Service Programs Act of 1992 (38 U.S.C. 7721 note) is 
amended by striking ``, during,''.

                              Introduction

    On February 28, 2001, the Chairman and Ranking Member, the 
Honorable Chris Smith and the Honorable Lane Evans, along with 
the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on 
Benefits, the Honorable J.D. Hayworth and the Honorable 
Silvestre Reyes, introduced H.R. 801.
    On March 15, 2001, the Subcommittee on Benefits held a 
hearing and considered H.R. 801 and other matters.
    On March 21, 2001, the Full Committee met and ordered H.R. 
801 reported favorably, as amended, to the House.

                      Summary of the Reported Bill

    H.R. 801, as amended, would:
title i-educational assistance provisions
    1. LIncrease from $2,000 to $3,400 the maximum allowable 
annual Senior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (SROTC) award 
for benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill.

    2. LExpand VA's work-study program for veterans to include 
working in their major academic discipline, working in state 
veterans homes, and helping State Approving Agencies with 
outreach efforts.

    3. LProvide for inclusion of certain private technology 
entities in the definition of educational institution.

    4. LAllow the disabled spouse or surviving spouse of a 
severely disabled service-connected veteran to receive special 
restorative training.

    5. LPermit veterans to use VA educational assistance 
benefits for a certificate program offered by an accredited 
institution of higher learning by way of independent study.
title ii-transition and outreach provisions
    1. LProvide VA the authority to maintain transition 
assistance offices overseas.

    2. LExtend the time that preseparation counseling is 
available to servicemembers leaving the service to as early as 
12 months before discharge, and 24 months prior to discharge 
for military retirees.

    3. LImprove education and training outreach services by 
requiring each State Approving Agency to conduct outreach 
programs and provide services to eligible veterans and 
dependents about state and federal education and training 
benefits.

    4. LFor purposes of VA's outreach program, defines an 
eligible dependent as the spouse, surviving spouse, child or 
dependent parent of a servicemember/veteran. Require VA to 
ensure that eligible dependents are made aware of VA's services 
through media and veterans publications.

    5. LRequire VA to provide to the veteran or eligible 
dependent information concerning VA benefits and services 
whenever that person first applies for any benefit.
title iii-memorial affairs, insurance, and other provisions
    1. LIncrease the burial and funeral expense for a service-
connected veteran from $1,500 to $2,000, increase the burial 
and funeral expense for a nonservice-connected veteran from 
$300 to $500, and increase the burial plot allowance from $150 
to $300.

    2. LExpand the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) 
program to include spouses and children. Spousal coverage will 
not exceed $100,000; child coverage would be $10,000. Upon 
termination of SGLI, the spouse's policy could be converted to 
a private life insurance policy.

    3. LMake the effective date of an increase from $200,000 to 
$250,000 in the maximum SGLI benefit provided in Public Law 
106-419 retroactive to October 1, 2000, for a servicemember who 
died in the performance of duty and had the maximum amount of 
insurance in force.

    4. LIncrease the automobile and adaptive equipment grant 
for severely disabled veterans from $8,000 to $9,000.

    5. LIncrease the grant for specially adapted housing for 
severely disabled veterans from $43,000 to $48,000, and 
increase the amount for less severely disabled veterans from 
$8,250 to $9,250.
    6. LRevise the rule with respect to the net worth 
limitation for VA's means-tested pension program by excluding 
the value of property used for farming, ranching or similar 
agricultural purposes.

                       Background and Discussion

                TITLE I-EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

    Increase in maximum allowable annual Senior ROTC 
educational assistance for eligibility for benefits under the 
Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB).--Section 101 would increase from 
$2,000 to $3,400 per year the amount a student under the Senior 
Reserve Officers' Training Corps (SROTC) can receive in SROTC 
educational assistance and still retain eligibility for the 
Montgomery GI Bill.
    In the early 1990's, the service branches began to offer 
partial scholarships to an increasing number of SROTC cadets. 
Although these Federal payments were just a small portion of 
their educational expenses, officers who were commissioned 
following receipt of partial scholarships continued to be 
barred from participation in the MGIB. To correct this 
inequity, Congress in 1996 provided in section 3011(c)(3) of 
title 38, United States Code, that officers who had received no 
more than $2,000 in each year of their SROTC program could 
participate in MGIB. The rising cost of tuition has outpaced 
the general rise in the cost of living since 1996. Although 
partial scholarships continue to pay only a small portion of 
educational expenses, the military services have increased the 
amount of a partial scholarship. The $2,000 limit would be 
increased to $3,400 to reflect this increase.

    Expansion of VA work-study opportunities.--Section 102 
would expand work-study opportunities for veteran-students and 
eligible dependents to include: outreach services to 
servicemembers and veterans furnished by State Approving 
Agencies; work-study activities for the veteran-student and/or 
dependent (who has declared an academic major) within the 
department of an academic discipline that complement and 
reinforce the program of education pursued by the student; and 
provision of care to veterans in a State home for which payment 
is made under section 1741 of title 38, United States Code.

    Under section 3485 of title 38, United States Code, VA 
work-study students may prepare or process necessary VA 
paperwork at schools or VA facilities, provide hospital and 
domiciliary care at VA facilities or work at DOD facilities, in 
certain circumstances. Since veteran-students are limited by 
current law to processing paperwork only at educational 
institutions, the educational institutions can use very few 
veteran-students. Veteran-students who have been able to obtain 
one of the limited VA work-study opportunities on campus have 
suggested to VA their interest in using VA work-study to work 
in the academic department of their major field of study to 
gain additional ``hands-on'' learning opportunities.

    Further, as noted in the January 1999 report of the 
bipartisan Congressional Commission on Servicemembers and 
Veterans Transition Assistance (Transition Commission), with 
State Approving Agencies (SAAs) doing more outreach to 
separating servicemembers in recent years with respect to 
veterans' education and training benefits, SAAs have expressed 
an interest in using veteran-students to assist them. Many of 
these students are recent separates from military service.
    The March 15, 2001 testimony of VA Secretary Anthony J. 
Principi before the Subcommittee on Benefits illustrates the 
advantages of this provision:

        Mr. Chairman, we believe it is in keeping with the 
        purposes of the VA work-study program that veteran 
        work-study students be provided this additional 
        educational assistance allowance for performing 
        services that do not just narrowly relate to VA 
        activities, but that broadly help other veterans. This 
        proposal would expand the opportunities now available 
        and would not deviate from the purpose of the benefit 
        program. Consequently, we would welcome a statutory 
        amendment permitting VA work-study students to perform 
        in the aforementioned arenas.

    Lastly, under current law VA work-study students are 
permitted to help provide domiciliary care in VA facilities, 
but not State veterans homes. Section 1741 of title 38, United 
States Code, allows VA to pay State homes for the daily care of 
veterans, if those veterans would be eligible for care in a VA 
facility.

    Inclusion of certain private technology entities in the 
definition of educational institution.--Section 103 would amend 
the definition of educational institution for VA educational 
assistance purposes to include any private entity that offers, 
either directly or under agreement with another entity, a 
course or courses to fulfill requirements for the attainment of 
a license or certificate generally recognized as necessary to 
obtain, maintain, or advance in employment in a profession or 
vocation in a technological occupation.
    This provision would permit educational assistance to be 
paid to veterans enrolled in courses offered by businesses. 
Current law defines a program of education as a curriculum or 
combination of unit courses or subjects pursued at an 
educational institution which is generally accepted as 
necessary for the attainment of a pre-determined and identified 
educational, professional, or vocational objective. A program 
of education may be offered at either an institution of higher 
learning or a non-college degree school. Current law does not 
permit VA to award benefits for courses offered by a commercial 
business entity.
    The Committee notes the oral testimony of Secretary 
Principi at its March 15th hearing: ``Education in America has 
changed. Veterans should be afforded a full opportunity to 
obtain training offered by the institutions defining the 
cutting edge of the technological revolution that will define 
America in the 21st century.''
    Certified Network Administrator and Certified Network 
Engineer courses by Novell Incorporated, Microsoft Corporation, 
and other companies are offered either through educational 
institutions or to employees by businesses. Although the 
courses are identical, only those veterans pursuing the courses 
at an educational institution may receive educational 
assistance under current law.
    The Committee bill addresses this problem by modifying the 
definition of a program of education. The Committee also notes 
the concerns that were raised by Representative Corrine Brown 
of Florida regarding the need to include survivors and 
dependents in the benefits associated with this modification to 
current law. Therefore, the Committee bill also modifies the 
definition of an educational institution for survivors and 
dependents.

    Expansion of special restorative training benefit to 
certain disabled spouses or surviving spouses.--Section 104 
would allow the disabled spouse or surviving spouse of a 
severely disabled service-connected veteran to receive special 
restorative training.

    Distance education.--Courses offered as an independent 
study program by an accredited institution of higher learning 
leading to a certificate that reflects educational attainment 
would be made approvable for veterans' training by section 105. 
State Approving Agencies (SAAs) determine whether such 
institutions and their courses meet veterans' training approval 
criteria.
    Courses leading to an associate degree and baccalaureate 
degree (known as standard college degrees) offered by 
independent study are approved for veterans' training under 
current law. There must be interaction between the student and 
the faculty by mail, telephone, video conferencing, computer 
technology, (including electronic mail), or in person. The 
Committee notes the Transition Committee report:

        . . . Substantial changes have occurred in both the 
        methods for providing education and in the institutions 
        offering courses and training. Post-secondary education 
        is now available on the Internet, through broadcast 
        media and videotape on satellite campuses, and through 
        noncampus programs.

    With the emergence of distance learning instruction via the 
Internet, interactive and computerized programs, and the 
globalization that has come with the information age, the 
Committee believes that courses leading to a certificate that 
reflects educational attainment via independent study should be 
approvable for veterans' training as well.

              TITLE II--TRANSITION AND OUTREACH PROVISIONS

    Authority to establish overseas veterans assistance offices 
to expand transition assistance.--Section 201 would give the 
Secretary the discretionary authority to maintain veterans 
assistance offices on Armed Forces installations located 
overseas, after consultation with the Secretary of Defense.
    The Committee notes the finding of the Transition 
Commission in regard to this provision:

        The law (section 7723 of title 38, United States Code) 
        does not require VA to maintain veterans' assistance 
        offices on military installations outside of the United 
        States. . . . Through a funding arrangement with DOD, 
        VA currently assigns representatives overseas on a 
        rotational basis in a number of locations with large 
        military populations. Servicemembers stationed overseas 
        who spoke with Commission members viewed the absence of 
        a permanent VA presence as a significant deficiency in 
        their support and assistance network. They noted that 
        this deficiency made the difficult challenge of 
        transitioning back to civilian life while overseas even 
        more difficult.

    VA agrees, as stated in the March 15 testimony of Secretary 
Principi: ``Expanding overseas transition assistance services 
with permanent VA offices located on military installations 
would allow us to extend the Benefits Delivery at Discharge 
program to service members being separated overseas.''

    Timing of preseparation counseling.--Under preseparation 
counseling, the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and 
Labor assist separating servicemembers with benefits and 
services to facilitate a successful transition to civilian 
life. Section 202 would change the timing of preseparation 
counseling from not less than 90 days prior to separation to as 
soon as possible during the 24-month period preceding an 
anticipated retirement and as soon as possible during the 12-
month period preceding other separations, but in no event later 
than 90 days before the date of discharge or release. The lone 
exception to this policy would be in the event that a 
retirement or other separation is unanticipated until there are 
90 or fewer days remaining in the member's service. In that 
case, preseparation counseling shall begin as soon as possible 
within the remaining period of service. The Secretary concerned 
would not be permitted to provide preseparation counseling to a 
servicemember who is being discharged or released before the 
completion of that servicemember's first 180 days of active 
duty.
    The Committee notes this provision is consistent with a 
Transition Commission recommendation. The March 15 written 
statement of Ms. Gail H. McGinn, Acting Assistant Secretary of 
Defense (Force Management Policy) supports it as well. She 
stated:

        The additional time provides commanders with the 
        flexibility needed as more and more servicemembers are 
        deployed during the last six months of their active 
        duty status. The additional time will also alleviate 
        the stress and pressure to compress transitioning, 
        relocation and out processing into the last few months 
        of active duty.

    Improvement in education and training outreach services for 
separating servicemembers and veterans.--Section 203 would 
require that State Approving Agencies (SAAs), in addition to 
the Secretary, actively promote the development of VA programs 
of training on the job (including programs of apprenticeship). 
This section also would require SAAs, in conjunction with 
outreach services furnished by the Secretary for education and 
training benefits under chapter 77 of title 38, United States 
Code, to conduct outreach programs and provide outreach 
services to eligible persons and veterans about education and 
training benefits available under applicable Federal and State 
law.
    The Committee notes the following observations by the 
Transition Commission report with respect to greater SAA 
emphasis on on-job training and apprenticeship:

          Only 2 percent of MGIB recipients use their benefits 
        for on-the-job training. SAAs operate at the state 
        level and under current law are authorized to work with 
        employers to both establish on-the-job/apprenticeship 
        programs and approve them. The Commission believes that 
        SAAs should spend increased time in this area. Doing so 
        would enhance SAAs opportunities to assist in the 
        placement of veterans, especially disabled veterans, 
        with employers. The Commission notes that SAAs are 
        beginning to increase their efforts to encourage use of 
        distance learning, apprenticeships, and on-the-job 
        training benefits. Several states have developed models 
        for outreach, including personal contact with potential 
        employers and briefings for veterans, transition 
        counselors, and servicemembers.

    The Committee also notes Transition Commission observations 
regarding greater SAA emphasis on benefits outreach: ``. . . 
unmet needs include education benefits outreach to separating 
veterans. . . . The mission of SAAs [should] include 
responsibility for providing education benefit outreach to 
separating veterans.''

    Expansion of outreach efforts to eligible dependents.--
Section 204 would define an eligible dependent as a spouse, 
surviving spouse, child or dependent parent of a person who 
served in the active military, naval, or air service for 
purposes of VA's outreach services. This section also requires 
the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to ensure that the 
availability of outreach services and assistance for eligible 
dependents is made known through a variety of means, including 
the Internet, announcements in veterans' publications, and 
announcements to the media.
    As pointed out in the testimony of the Honorable Bill 
Pascrell, Jr. of New Jersey, ``the most recent survey conducted 
by VA indicated that less than half of veterans contacted were 
aware of certain benefits they were entitled to receive. Some 
of these benefits included pension benefits for disabled, low-
income veterans.''
    The March 15, 2001, testimony of Rose Lee, former national 
chairman, Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., before the 
Subcommittee on Benefits illustrates the value added by the 
Committee's provision:

        We are very pleased to see that the Subcommittee has 
        seen fit to make the necessary changes to make it clear 
        that the Secretary for Veterans' Affairs has a duty to 
        ensure that surviving spouses are provided with the 
        information concerning all of the benefits and health 
        care services administered by the Secretary. While it 
        is not clear under the current law that the widows of 
        those servicemen who gave their lives for their country 
        were to be served by the Secretary in his outreach 
        programs, this legislation should correct any such 
        misunderstanding. Gold Star Wives has had significant 
        experience in undertaking such outreach on its own and 
        now is pleased that it could have a true partner in 
        ensuring that widows are informed of their rightful 
        benefits.

    Improvement of veterans outreach programs.--Section 205 
would require VA to provide a veteran or eligible dependent 
with information concerning benefits and health care services 
under programs administered by the Secretary whenever a veteran 
or dependent first applies for any benefit.

    In administering this provision, it is the Committee's 
intent that VA have the flexibility to use its discretion in 
the timing and manner of providing information to be sensitive 
to family's needs. The Committee notes that this section is 
derived from a bill, H.R. 336, introduced by Representative 
Michael Doyle of Pennsylvania.

      TITLE III-MEMORIAL AFFAIRS, INSURANCE, AND OTHER PROVISIONS

    Increase in burial benefits.--Section 301(a) would increase 
the burial and funeral expense allowance payable for service-
connected deaths from $1,500 to $2,000, and for nonservice-
connected deaths from $300 to $500. Section 301(b) would 
increase, from $150 to $300, the plot allowance payable for a 
veteran buried in State or private cemeteries. Pursuant to 
section 301(c), these amounts would be indexed to increases in 
Social Security benefits under section 5312 of title 38, United 
States Code.

    Family coverage under Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance.--Section 302 would add a new section to title 38, 
United States Code, to provide automatic Servicemembers' Group 
Life Insurance (SGLI) coverage to the spouse and children of 
insured, full-time, active-duty servicemembers, as well as 
covered members of the Ready Reserve. This section would 
provide up to $100,000 of SGLI coverage for a spouse and 
$10,000 for each child. The servicemember would be able to 
elect, in writing, not to insure a spouse; coverage for a child 
would be automatic. SGLI coverage for family members would end: 
(1) 120 days after the date of the written election of the 
servicemember; (2) 120 days after the member's death; (3) 120 
days after the date on which the servicemember's SGLI is 
terminated; or (4) 120 days after the date on which the 
insured's status as the child or spouse terminates. If a 
spouse's coverage were terminated by one of these events, the 
spouse would have the option to convert SGLI coverage to 
commercial coverage.
    The Committee notes testimony of the Paralyzed Veterans of 
America (PVA) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United 
States (VFW), respectively, regarding this provision of the 
Committee bill. The PVA noted: ``The extension of coverage 
under the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance program to a 
dependent spouse and children is an excellent indication that 
America cares about its veterans and their families.'' The VFW 
said: ``We view this measure as pro-family and anticipate that 
the Secretary of Defense will be able to negotiate premium 
rates that will be much more favorable to the servicemember 
than would be available on the open market.''

    Effective date for increase in Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance benefit for certain servicemembers dying in 
performance of duty. Section 303 would provide an effective 
date of October 1, 2000, for an increase in the maximum amount 
of SGLI from $200,000 to $250,000 for those servicemembers that 
(1) died during the performance of duty between October 1, 2000 
and March 31, 2001, and (2) had previously elected the maximum 
amount of SGLI. Public Law 106-419 increased the maximum amount 
of SGLI to $250,000 effective April 1, 2001. As Representative 
Jo Ann Davis of Virginia stated in her March 15 testimony 
before the Committee:

        America has recently witnessed an extraordinary number 
        of accidents and tragedies within our military 
        community. A V-22 Osprey, a Blackhawk helicopter, and a 
        C-23 airplane all recently crashed. Only a few days 
        ago, there was the accidental bombing of our own 
        servicemen in Kuwait. The important thing to remember 
        is all of these accidents resulted in the untimely and 
        tragic deaths of many of our servicemen in the 
        performance of their duty.

    Representative Silvestre Reyes of Texas stressed the 
importance of providing an effective date of October 1, 2000, 
in order to include victims of the terrorist attack on the 
U.S.S. Cole. Secretary Principi stated that the Administration 
would support an effective date of October 1, 2000.

    Increase in the amount of assistance for automobile and 
adaptive equipment for certain disabled veterans.--Section 304 
would increase the automobile and adaptive equipment grant for 
severely disabled veterans from $8,000 to $9,000.
    The testimony of the Disabled American Veterans is 
illustrative of the views of witnesses on this issue: ``The 
amount of automobile allowance has not been adjusted regularly 
to keep pace with increases in the costs of automobiles. This 
neglect substantially eroded the value of the benefit due to 
inflation. At the current allowance, the benefit represents 
only about 32 percent of the year 2000 average cost of a new 
automobile, $24,730.''

    Increase in assistance amount for specially adapted 
housing.--Section 305 would increase the grant for specially 
adapted housing for severely disabled veterans from $43,000 to 
$48,000, and would increase the amount for less severely 
disabled veterans from $8,250 to $9,250.
    The written testimony of the Secretary Principi at the 
March 15 hearing speaks to the need for this increase:

          The current grant amounts were set by Public Law 105-
        178, an increase of such grants effective October 1, 
        1998. Cost data obtained by VA in 1998 showed that 
        increases of up to $50,000 and $8,500, respectively, 
        would have been justified. In FY 2000, 99 percent of 
        the veterans determined eligible for these grants used 
        the maximum grant amount and, in most cases, required 
        additional funding to complete their adaptations. Based 
        on our initial research, we believe that the proposed 
        increase in these grants is necessary and appropriate 
        to keep pace with increased costs.

    Revision of rules with respect to net worth limitation for 
eligibility for pensions for veterans who are permanently and 
totally disabled from a non-service-connected disability.--
Section 306 would revise the rule with respect to net worth 
limitation for VA's means-tested pension program by excluding 
the value of property used for farming, ranching, or similar 
agricultural purposes.

    Technical amendments.--Section 307 would make technical 
amendments to section 107 of title 38, United States Code, to 
reconcile and clarify amendments made by Public Laws 106-377 
and 106-419 that affect the rate of payment of burial benefits 
and compensation to certain Filipino veterans.

                      Section-By-Section Analysis

    All references are to title 38, United States Code, unless 
otherwise noted.

    Section 1 would provide that this Act may be cited as the 
``Veterans Opportunities Act of 2001''.

    Section 2 states that except as otherwise expressly 
provided, all references are to title 38, United States Code.

    Section 101(a) would amend sections 3011(c)(3)(B) and 
3012(d)(3)(B) by increasing from $2,000 to $3,400 the maximum 
annual scholarship a participant in the Senior Reserve 
Officers' Training Corps (SROTC) may receive and still be 
eligible for the educational assistance allowance paid under 
chapter 30 (All-Volunteer Force Educational Assistance Program 
known as the ``Montgomery GI Bill''). This section applies 
primarily to SROTC students receiving partial scholarships

    Section 101(b) would require that that section 101 take 
effect on the date of enactment of this Act, for the months 
beginning after such date.

    Section 102(a) reflects changes in VA work-study 
opportunities. This section would amend section 3485(a)(1) 
clause (A). It would add outreach services to servicemembers 
and veterans furnished by employees of State Approving 
Agencies, as a type of service for which an eligible veteran-
student may receive a VA work-study allowance.

    Section 102(b) would amend section 3485(a)(1). It would add 
a new clause (F) authorizing activities within the department 
of an academic discipline of a veteran-student's declared 
academic major that complement or reinforce his program, as a 
type of duty for which the veteran may receive a VA work-study 
allowance. Such veterans must have declared a major or academic 
discipline to participate.

    Section 102(c) would amend section 3485(a)(1) clause (C) by 
adding the provision of domiciliary care and medical treatment 
for veterans in a State home for which payment is made under 
section 1741.

    Section 102(d) would create an effective date on or after 
the date of enactment of this Act, with amendments that would 
be made by this subsection applying with respect to agreements 
entered into under section 3485.

    Section 103(a) would amend sections 3452(c) and 3501(a)(6) 
to expand the definition of educational institutions to include 
any private entity that offers, either directly or under an 
agreement with another entity, a course or courses to fulfill 
requirement for the attainment of a license or certificate 
generally recognized as necessary to obtain, maintain, or 
advance in employment in a profession or vocation in a 
technological occupation.

    Section 103(b) would specify that the amendment made by 
this subsection shall apply to enrollments in courses occurring 
on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

    Section 104(a) would amend section 3540 to reflect an 
expansion of special restorative training (SRT) benefits to 
certain disabled spouses or surviving spouses. This section 
would expand the SRT benefit provided under the chapter 35 
Survivors and Dependents' Educational Assistance program to 
include certain disabled spouses or surviving spouses. Such 
individuals would be eligible to receive SRT to overcome or 
lessen the effects of a physical or mental disability and 
enable them to undertake a program of education.

    Section 104(b) would amend section 3541(a) substituting 
`eligible person' for `parent or guardian' to receive special 
restorative training.

    Section 105(a) would amend section 3680A(a)(4) to allow 
eligible veterans to receive educational benefits to pursue 
courses leading to a certificate that reflects educational 
attainment by an accredited institution of higher learning.

    Section 105(b) would require that the amendments made by 
this subsection shall apply to enrollments in independent study 
courses beginning on or after the date of enactment of this 
Act.

    Section 106(a) would amend section 3011(a)(1)(A), 
clarifying the period of active duty required to be eligible to 
participate in the Montgomery GI Bill program.

    Section 106(b) would amend section 3014(b)(2) to reduce the 
overall months of entitlement to education benefits for a 
veteran who is pursuing off-duty training by the total benefits 
paid divided by the applicable full-time rate of assistance.

    Section 106(c) would amend section 3011(e) to establish 
that payments made by those servicemembers who wish to buy into 
enhanced benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill program shall be 
made on a monthly basis and in $20 increments.

    Section 106(d) would amend section 3017(b) to include as 
payment to a death benefit beneficiary any amounts reduced from 
the deceased individual's basic military pay for purposes of 
the chapter 30 Montgomery GI Bill program.

    Section 106(e) would amend section 3512(a)(3)(B), 
clarifying that any eligible person may elect the starting date 
of their chapter 35 education and training benefits within 60 
days of receiving written notice from the Secretary of their 
opportunity to do so.

    Section 201 would amend section 7723(a) to give the 
Secretary the discretionary authority to establish veterans 
assistance offices on Armed Forces installations outside of the 
United States as the Secretary determines necessary. In so 
doing, the Secretary would be required to consult with the 
Secretary of Defense.

    Section 202(a) would amend section 1142(a)(1) of title 10, 
United States Code. This section would require the service 
branch Secretary concerned to provide for individual 
preseparation counseling of the servicemember as soon as 
possible during the 24-month period preceding an anticipated 
retirement. It would also require such counseling as soon as 
possible during the 12-month period preceding other 
separations, but except in the case of a member who is being 
retired or separated for disability, in no event later than 90 
days before the date of discharge or release. In the event that 
a retirement or separation is unanticipated until there are 90 
or fewer days remaining in the member's service, preseparation 
counseling shall begin as soon as possible within the remaining 
period of service. Except in the case of a member who is being 
retired or separated for disability, a member who is being 
discharged or released before the completion of that member's 
first 180 days of active duty shall not receive preseparation 
counseling.

    Section 202(b) would amend section 1144 of title 10, United 
States Code, to conform to amendments made in section 202(a).

    Section 203(a) would amend section 3672(d) to require State 
Approving Agencies actively to conduct outreach programs to 
promote the development of programs of training on the job.

    Section 203(b) would further amend section 3672(d) by 
adding at the end a new paragraph requiring that in conjunction 
with outreach services furnished by the Secretary, each State 
Approving Agency shall conduct outreach programs and provide 
outreach services to eligible persons and veterans about 
education and training benefits available under applicable 
Federal and State law.

    Section 204(a) would amend section 7721(b)(2) to define the 
term ``eligible dependent'' as a spouse, surviving spouse, 
child, or dependent parent of a person who served in the active 
military, naval or air service.

    Section 204(b) would amend subchapter II of chapter 77 by 
adding at the end a new section 7727 titled ``Outreach for 
eligible dependents''. In carrying out this subchapter, the 
Secretary would be required to ensure that the needs of 
eligible dependents are fully addressed. Further, the Secretary 
would be required to ensure that the availability or outreach 
services and assistance for eligible dependents under this 
subchapter is made known through a variety of means, including 
the Internet, announcements in veterans publications, and 
announcements in the media.

    Section 205 would amend section 7722(c) with respect to 
outreach programs. It would require that whenever a veteran 
dependent first applies for any benefit under laws administered 
by the Secretary (including a request for burial or related 
benefits, or an application for life insurance proceeds), the 
Secretary shall provide to the veteran or dependent information 
concerning benefits and health care services under programs 
administered by the Secretary.

    Section 301(a) would amend section 2307 by increasing from 
$1,500 to $2,000 the burial and funeral expenses incurred in 
connection with the death of a veteran who dies as the result 
of service-connected disability or disabilities. This section 
would also amend section 2302(a) by increasing from $300 to 
$500 the burial and funeral expenses incurred in connection 
with nonservice-connected deaths.

    Section 301(b) would amend section 2303(b) by increasing 
the plot allowance from $150 to $300 payable for veterans 
buried in State or private cemeteries.

    Section 301(c) would amend section 5312(a) such that the 
amounts payable under sections 2302, 2303, and 2307, would be 
indexed to increases in Social Security Act benefits.

    Section 301(d) would require that amendments made by this 
section shall apply to deaths occurring after the date of 
enactment of this Act.

    Section 302(a) would amend section 1965 to expand the 
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance program to include 
eligibility to a servicemember's spouse and child as defined in 
sentence one of section 101(4)(A).

    Section 302(b)(1)(A) would amend section 1966 to include 
each insurable dependent of any member of a uniformed service 
on active duty (other than active duty for training) or any 
member of the Ready Reserve of a uniformed service who meets 
the qualifications set forth in section 1965(5)(B).

    Section 302(b)(2)(A) restates a current provision of law 
allowing a servicemember to elect not to enroll in 
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance.

    Section 302(b)(2)(B) would allow a servicemember to elect 
not to insure the member's spouse.

    Section 302(b)(3)(A) would provide the amounts of coverage 
under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance to be: (i) in the 
case of a member, up to $250,000; (ii) in the case of a 
member's spouse, up to $100,000; (iii) in the case of a 
member's child, $10,000.

    Section 302(b)(3)(B) would provide the member the option of 
insuring self or the member's spouse at less than the maximum 
amount. The member cannot elect a lesser amount for the child.

    Section 302(b)(3)(C) would provide that in no case may the 
amount of the insurance coverage for the spouse exceed the 
amount of the insurance coverage of the member.

    Section 302(b)(4)(A) would prohibit insuring a dependent 
unless the member is insured under this chapter.

    Section 302(b)(4)(B) would prohibit a child from being 
insured under this chapter by more than one member. If the 
child is otherwise eligible to be insured by more than one 
member, coverage will be provided under the policy of the 
member whose eligibility for insurance occurred first, unless 
that member does not have legal custody of the child.

    Section 302(b)(5) would set forth the effective dates of 
coverage for a member and the insurable dependents.

    Section 302(c)(1) would amend section 1968 to provide dates 
of termination of coverage in the case of a member's death, the 
termination of the insurance on the member's life, and the 
termination of the dependent's status as an insurable 
dependent.

    Section 302(d) would amend section 1969 to provide the 
manner in which the premiums will be paid, and provides the 
Secretary the authority to determine the premium amounts to be 
charged for insurance coverage for spouses of members.

    Section 302(e) would amend section 1970 to provide that any 
amount of insurance in force on an insurable dependent shall be 
paid to the member. In the event of the member's death before 
payment is made, payment will be made to the person(s) entitled 
to receive payment on the member's life.

    Section 302(f)(3)(A) would amend section 1968(b) to provide 
that a policy of a member's spouse may be converted to an 
individual policy under the same conditions as described in 
section 1977(e) upon written application for conversion. An 
insurable dependent may not convert such policy to Veterans' 
Group Life Insurance.

    Section 302(f)(3)(B) would prohibit the conversion of an 
insurable dependent that is a child.

    Section 302(g) would provide an effective date as the first 
day of the first month that begins more than 120 days after the 
date of the enactment of this Act.

    Section 303(a) increases the Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance benefit by $50,000 in the case of a member of the 
Armed Services who (as determined by the Secretary concerned) 
died in the performance of duty during the period beginning 
October 1, 2000, and ending on March 31, 2001, and who, on the 
date of death, was insured under the Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance program for the maximum amount available at the time.

    Section 303(b) would provide that the definition of the 
term `Secretary concerned' in 303(a) has the same meaning given 
as in section 101(25).

    Section 304 would amend section 3902(a) by increasing the 
amount of assistance for automobile and adaptive equipment for 
certain disabled veterans from $8,000 to $9,000.

    Section 305 would amend section 2102 by increasing the 
Specially Adapted Housing Grant for veterans with severe 
service-connected disabilities from $43,000 to $48,000 and the 
Special Home Adaptation Grant for veterans less severely 
disabled from $8,250 to $9,250.

    Section 306(a) would amend 1522(a) to exclude the value of 
family farms, ranches and similar agricultural property in 
determining the net worth of veterans' estates for purposes of 
the nonservice-connected pension program.

    Section 306(b) would provide an effective date for section 
306(a) for the payment of pensions for months beginning on or 
after date of enactment.

    Section 307(a) makes a technical correction in the 
numbering of section 107 and clarifies that the provision as 
corrected applies to benefits under chapter 23.

    Section 307(b) makes technical corrections in sections of 
Public Law 106-419 retroactive to the date of its enactment.

    Section 307(c) makes a technical correction to Public Law 
102-590.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    The reported bill authorizes benefits increases and program 
expansions to improve programs of educational assistance, 
expand programs of transition assistance and outreach, increase 
burial benefits, and provide family coverage under 
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance. All programs affected by 
the reported bill are currently authorized. Their performance 
goals and objectives are established in the VA's annual 
performance plans and are subject to the Committee's oversight.

                  Statement of Administration's Views

  STATEMENT OF ANTHONY J. PRINCIPI, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS 
AFFAIRS, BEFORE THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS, SUBCOMMITTEE 
                      ON BENEFITS, MARCH 15, 2001

    Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

    Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on H.R. 801, the 
``Veterans' Opportunities Act of 2001''. We also appreciate the 
opportunity to comment on the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) 
implementation of section 601 of Public Law 105-368, which established 
the Pilot Program for VA Guaranteed Loans for Multifamily Transitional 
Housing for Homeless Veterans.
                                h.r. 801
    First, Mr. Chairman, I would like to provide VA's views on H.R. 
801. This is an omnibus bill consisting of three titles that would make 
changes affecting veterans' education benefits, outreach, and memorial 
affairs. Many of the changes, though modest in reach, appear 
significant and beneficial in purpose.
    We estimate that H.R. 801 would result in additional benefits cost 
that, if not fully offset in accordance with the pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) 
provisions of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, would 
trigger a sequester. Subject to meeting PAYGO requirements, however, VA 
supports most provisions of this worthwhile measure, as discussed 
below.
TITLE I-EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROVISIONS
    Section 101 would increase, from $2,000 to $3,400, the maximum 
allowable annual scholarship a participant in the Senior Reserve 
Officers' Training Corps (SROTC) program may receive and still be 
eligible for benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). Before the 
current $2,000 ceiling was enacted, officers who had received a 
commission upon completion of ROTC training were barred from 
participating in the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). The purpose of the bar 
was to avoid having the Federal government pay for an ROTC cadet's 
undergraduate degree and then pay for additional education under the 
MGIB, sometimes based on the same active duty service. However, it 
became recognized that an increasing number of ROTC students were 
receiving only partial scholarships, and it seemed unreasonable to 
apply the ``double dip'' provision to them. Hence, the statute was 
amended to allow ROTC students who entered active duty after September 
30, 1996, to participate in the MGIB, provided they received less than 
$2,000 each school year from their ROTC scholarship.

We agree the current limit is too low. The average scholarship now is 
reported to be $3,400 annually. Therefore, amending the law to raise 
the amount the ROTC cadet can receive each year to that level is a 
reasonable accommodation.

    VA estimates there would be no costs associated with the enactment 
of this section of H.R. 801.
    Section 102 of the bill would increase VA work-study program 
opportunities by expanding the types of services that may be 
authorized, to include services for State approving agencies; services 
related to an individual's academic discipline, performed for the 
department of the educational institution having jurisdiction for that 
discipline; and services for State veterans' homes that receive funds 
from VA. These amendments would be effective on the date of enactment.
    Under current law, VA work-study students are limited to performing 
outreach, preparing or processing necessary VA paperwork at schools or 
VA facilities, and assisting in VA hospitals and domiciliaries or 
working at DOD facilities (in certain circumstances). While this 
limitation on authorized services may have been appropriate when 
enacted, it now appears to be an impediment both to program 
participation and effective provision of needed services to other 
veterans.
    For example, we hear from veterans and school officials alike, 
that, with the ever-increasing costs of education, some veterans have a 
real need for greater access to resources that can supplement their 
MGIB benefits. Work-study students have complained about the limited 
opportunities available to perform the specific services allowed by 
law. Small schools can only offer a limited number of positions. Many 
schools are far from a VA facility, thus shutting out would-be 
participants.
    Mr. Chairman, we believe it is in keeping with the purposes of the 
VA work-study program that veteran work-study students be provided this 
additional educational assistance allowance for performing services 
that do not just narrowly relate to VA activities, but that broadly 
help other veterans. This proposal would expand the opportunities now 
available and would not deviate from the purpose of the benefit 
program. Consequently, we would welcome a statutory amendment 
permitting VA work-study students to perform in the aforementioned 
arenas.
    Our preliminary cost estimate indicates that section 102 would 
result in benefit costs of less than $1.9 million in FY 2002, with a 5-
year benefit cost of about $9.6 million for FYs 2002-2006.
    Section 103 of H. R. 801 proposes to amend the definition of 
``educational institution'' to include any entity that provides, 
directly or under agreement, training required for a license or 
certificate in a vocation or profession in a technological field. It 
would become effective the date of enactment.
    The law defines a ``program of education'' as a curriculum or 
combination of unit courses or subjects pursued at an educational 
institution which is generally accepted as necessary for the attainment 
of a predetermined and identified educational, professional, or 
vocational objective. A program of education may be offered at either 
an institution of higher learning or a non-college degree school. 
Presently, the law does not permit VA to award benefits for courses 
offered by commercial enterprises whose primary purposes are other than 
providing educational instruction. Certified Network Administrator 
(CNA) and Certified Network Engineer (CNE) courses offered by Novell, 
Microsoft, and other companies, for example, are offered either through 
educational institutions or by designated business centers. Although 
the courses are identical, regardless of where offered, only those 
veterans pursuing the courses at an educational institution may receive 
educational assistance.
    This bill would allow VA to award benefits to those veterans taking 
these courses at a business site. This would permit approval of courses 
offered by businesses only when the courses are needed to fulfill 
requirements for the attainment of a license or certificate generally 
recognized as necessary to obtain, maintain, or advance in employment 
in a profession or vocation in a technological occupation. We believe 
providing educational benefits for pursuit of these courses is fully 
consonant with MGIB purposes, and, given the bill's conditions on 
approving the courses, adequate safeguards would exist against 
potential abuse. Consequently, we would support this provision of the 
bill.
    Our preliminary cost estimate indicates that section 103 would 
result in benefit costs of about $3.4 million in FY 2002, with a 5-year 
benefit cost of about $17.6 million for FYs 2002-2006.
    Section 104 would expand the special restorative training (SRT) 
benefit provided under the chapter 35 Survivors' and Dependents' 
Educational Assistance program to include certain disabled spouses or 
surviving spouses. Presently, eligible children entitled to chapter 35 
assistance may receive SRT to overcome or lessen the effects of a 
physical or mental disability and enable them to undertake a program of 
education. This same benefit should be extended to the eligible spouse 
or surviving spouse when there is a reasonable possibility that the 
handicapping effect of his or her disability can be overcome or 
lessened through an SRT course. The purpose of such training should be 
to prepare the person for subsequent education or training. Further, 
there must be an indication that the person is having difficulty 
selecting a program because of the disability.

    We support this provision of the bill.
    Our preliminary cost estimate indicates that section 104 would 
result in benefit costs of less than $11,000 in FY 2002, with a 5-year 
benefit cost of almost $54,000 for FYs 2002-2006.
    Section 105 would permit eligible veterans to receive VA education 
benefits, effective on the date of enactment, while pursuing 
noncollege-degree courses that are offered through independent study by 
institutions of higher learning.
    Currently, an eligible veteran may receive educational assistance 
allowance for pursuit of an accredited independent study program 
(distance learning), provided that the program leads to a standard 
college degree. There must be interaction between the student and the 
faculty by mail, telephone, video conferencing, computer technology 
(including electronic mail), or personally.
    This bill would allow the approval of distance education programs 
leading to a certificate offered through independent study by 
institutions of higher learning. This would be similar to the 
requirements for approval of independent study courses that lead to a 
degree, except this provision doesn't specify that the institution of 
higher learning be accredited . A veteran's educational opportunities 
currently are limited by the inability to pursue certificate programs 
offered by independent study. We agree that this should be changed. 
Nevertheless, as a safeguard to help assure the merit of such training, 
approval of courses offered by independent study and leading to a 
certificate should be limited to those offered by an accredited 
institution of higher learning. We would support this section with such 
modification.
    Our preliminary cost estimate indicates that section 105 would 
result in benefit costs of about $1.3 million in FY 2002, with a 5-year 
benefit cost of almost $7 million for FYs 2002-2006.
    Section 106 of H.R. 801 would add several technical amendments.

          (a) The first amendment would rework an ambiguity in the law 
        concerning the period of active duty an individual must serve 
        to become entitled to MGIB benefits consistent with the tiered 
        benefit structure in effect before the enactment of Pub. L. 
        106-419. Until the enactment of that law, individuals who 
        served at least 3 continuous years of an initial obligated 
        period of 3 or more years established eligibility for MGIB at 
        the highest rate. Those who served an initial obligated period 
        of 2 years received a lesser rate. Pub. L. 106-419 sought to 
        extend eligibility to people whose qualifying period of active 
        duty service was other than the initial obligated period, 
        without affecting requirements as to the length of such 
        service. In so doing, however, it inadvertently amended the 
        statute to read, in effect, that a person who agrees to serve 
        an obligated period of more than 3 years, under section 
        3011(a)(1)(A) of title 38, U.S.C., must serve that entire 
        obligated period, not merely 3 years thereof. This amendment 
        makes it clear that the individual need complete only 3 
        continuous years of active duty to establish full MGIB 
        entitlement. This amendment also clarifies that a person who 
        agrees to serve at least 2, but less than 3, years of active 
        duty may become entitled to the MGIB when that person serves 
        for at least 2 continuous years. This provision would be 
        effective retroactive to November 1, 2000. Since this merely 
        corrects a technical error in Pub. L. 106-419, we support this 
        provision.

          (b) The second correction would change the way in which MGIB 
        entitlement would be charged for service members who use such 
        entitlement to ``top up'' their military tuition assistance. 
        Pub. L. 106-398 provided this new opportunity to use the MGIB 
        benefit. Operationally, however, it provided that service 
        members who used the ``top up'' assistance would retain 36 
        months of MGIB entitlement, but the monthly rate for that 
        entitlement would be reduced by subtracting the total amount of 
        ``top up'' money paid from the total the individual was 
        otherwise eligible to receive, and dividing the result by 36. 
        The technical amendment would more accurately measure the use 
        of MGIB benefits for this purpose, as contemplated in Pub. L. 
        106-398, by having the monthly rate remain constant while the 
        individual's available months of MGIB entitlement would be 
        reduced by dividing the total amount received in ``top up'' 
        money by the monthly rate payable.

        In other words, similar to the manner in which entitlement is 
        charged for flight training, for each $650 paid to a service 
        member with a service obligation of 3 years or more, 
        entitlement would be reduced by one month. This would greatly 
        simplify operations and more accurately and understandably 
        assess use of MGIB benefits for ``top up'' purposes. Therefore, 
        we strongly support this amendment.

          (c) The third amendment would clarify the timing and amount 
        of additional monies a service member can contribute to augment 
        his or her monthly rate of MGIB benefits, and provide that the 
        contributions would be collected by the Secretary of the 
        appropriate military department. The law, as amended by Pub. L. 
        106-419, currently provides that a service member can 
        contribute up to $600 to increase the monthly MGIB rate. That 
        contribution can be made at any time, in multiples of $4. Thus, 
        extended to the extreme, the individual could contribute $4 
        several times each day. Moreover, current law could be read to 
        require VA to increase the monthly rate effective when each $4 
        contribution is received. This is nearly impossible for VA to 
        administer. The H.R. 801 amendment would provide that the 
        contributions could be no more frequent than once per month and 
        must be in multiples of $20. Further, the increased monthly 
        rate would go into effect on the first day of the enrollment 
        period following receipt of the contribution. These changes are 
        reasonable and would make the benefit augmentation provision 
        feasible to administer. Consequently, we strongly favor this 
        technical amendment.

          (d) The fourth amendment would provide that the amount of 
        contributions made to augment an individual's monthly MGIB 
        benefit would be included in determining the amount of the MGIB 
        death benefit payable to an individual's survivors, in the same 
        manner as would the $1200 pay reduction. Since this would be in 
        keeping with the purpose of the death benefit, we support this 
        amendment. However, we note that the $1200 pay reductions 
        included in 38 U.S.C. 3018A, 3018B, and 3018C have never been 
        included in the death benefit, while Pub. L. 106-419 made such 
        provision for pay reductions under 38 U.S.C. 3018C(e). 
        Accordingly, we suggest it would be appropriate at this time to 
        include all such pay reductions in the death benefit.

          (e) Pub. L. 106-419 provided that some children eligible for 
        educational assistance under the DEA program could elect the 
        beginning date of their period of eligibility. This provision 
        was enacted to overcome a situation where the child might lose 
        much of the eligibility period while awaiting VA's decision on 
        whether the parent's service-connected disability is permanent 
        and total or the parent's death was service-connected. However, 
        by requiring that the child make the election between ages 18 
        and 26, the law prohibits an election where it is clearly 
        needed.

          For example, assume a veteran dies when the child is age 23. 
        VA doesn't decide that the death is service-connected until 
        after the child's 26th birthday. This child currently cannot 
        make an election. H.R. 801 would overcome this by providing 
        that the election could be made no later than the end of a 60-
        day period beginning on the day VA notifies the child of the 
        right to make an election. This overcomes a clear inequity in 
        the law and, consequently, has our full support.

    VA estimates there would be no costs associated with the enactment 
of this section of H.R. 801.
TITLE II-TRANSITION AND OUTREACH PROVISIONS
    Section 201 contains three provisions that would affect VA's 
Transition Assistance Program responsibility. The first of these would 
require VA to provide aid and assistance, as described in section 
7722(d) of title 38, United States Code, to service members as part of 
their transition assistance programs, under section 1144 of title 10, 
United States Code. This amendment, in effect, would mandate in title 
38 what VA now is doing by interagency agreement to implement the 
Transition Assistance Program (TAP) established under title 10.
    Under section 1144, the Departments of Labor (DOL), Defense (DOD), 
and Veterans Affairs have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding 
(MOU) outlining joint, as well as individual agency responsibilities. 
Under this MOU, VA is responsible for providing a point of contact and 
coordinators; highly qualified benefits counselors, instruction aides 
and course materials for each participant at locations where the 
program is conducted; a VA training curriculum and support to the 
National Veteran Training Institute and DOL TAP staff; as well as 
guidance on the role of all veterans' service organizations. VA is also 
responsible for monitoring its TAP and Disabled Transition Assistance 
Program (DTAP) delivery to maintain a high-quality program. Program 
responsibility is assigned to the Demand Management Staff, Compensation 
and Pension Service. It should be noted that the last MOU was signed in 
December 1994, and that the Agencies' program coordinators are working 
together in developing an updated MOU. However, no major changes are 
anticipated in VA responsibilities.
    During FY 2000, VBA military services coordinators conducted over 
5,200 briefings through the Transition Assistance Programs, Retirement 
Services Program, and other separation activities. Over 214,000 service 
members and spouses attended these programs. Almost 89,000 personal 
interviews were conducted with active duty personnel during that same 
period.
    VA, thus, is fully committed to its TAP responsibilities. We 
believe this provision merely may be intended to reaffirm that 
commitment. Nevertheless, we are concerned that the provision, as 
drafted, creates an independent mandate for VA that could limit our 
flexibility in providing TAP services in conjunction with our other 
partners, DOL and DOD. We would be pleased to work with the Committee 
staff to clarify the intent of this provision.
    The second provision of section 201 requires VA to establish 
offices on military installations outside of the United States as VA 
determines necessary. Currently, VA provides transition assistance 
services to overseas active duty personnel through VBA's Overseas 
Military Services Program (0SMP). This program operates under a 
separate Memorandum of Agreement between the Departments of Defense and 
Veterans Affairs. Under the OSMP, VA representatives are placed at key 
transition sites in Europe and the Far East. These are temporary tours 
of duty logistically supported by the DOD which include office space, 
lodging, per diem, and travel costs. During 9 months of coverage 
provided in FY 2000, overseas military services coordinators conducted 
414 briefings, attended by almost 11,000 active duty personnel and 
spouses. In addition, overseas military services coordinators conducted 
over 4,400 personal interviews with service members.
    Expanding overseas transition assistance services with permanent VA 
Offices located on military installations would allow us to extend the 
Benefits Delivery at Discharge program to service members being 
separated overseas. Through the Benefits Delivery at Discharge program, 
VA assists service members in filing claims with the ultimate goal of 
rating cases and awarding benefits within 30 days of the member's 
discharge from service. Benefits Delivery at Discharge programs are 
currently operational at 114 military installations in the United 
States. During the first quarter of FY 2001, VA conducted over 8,000 
pre-discharge examinations and finalized nearly 5,000 claims through 
the Benefits Delivery at Discharge program.
    Although we have no objection to being given express statutory 
authority to maintain offices on Armed Forces installations overseas, 
we find that, as with the previous provision, the mandatory language of 
this provision does not allow VA sufficient discretion in our use of 
resources. Again, we would be pleased to work with the staff to draft 
appropriate language to effect the objective here.
    The third provision of section 201 would clarify VA's authority, 
under section 7724 of title 38, to outstation VA personnel on military 
installations to provide counseling and outreach services to veterans 
and other eligible persons. We have read section 7724 broadly as 
already giving VA that authority, and further note that section 701 of 
Public Law 102-83 also gives VA this authority for purposes of 
providing information and assistance concerning veterans' benefits to 
service members approaching discharge or release from active military, 
naval, or air service. Moreover, since the implementation of the pilot 
Transition Assistance Program (TAP) in l990 (PL 101-237) and the 
permanent TAP established under PL 101-510, VBA military services 
coordinators have been located at many military bases throughout the 
country to provide transition assistance. Thus, this provision would 
not seem necessary. Nevertheless, we have no objection to the addition 
of this explicit authority in title 38.
    VA estimates there would be no costs associated with the enactment 
of this section of H.R. 801.
    Section 202 provides for pre-separation counseling by Department of 
Defense personnel of each member of the armed forces whose discharge or 
release from active duty is anticipated. Since this is a matter within 
their purview, VA defers to the DOD on this provision.
    Section 203 of H.R. 801 would require each State approving agency 
(SAA) to conduct outreach programs and provide outreach services to 
veterans and eligible persons about education and training benefits 
available to them under federal or state law. Both VA and the SAA's 
believe such information is important in helping service members and 
veterans decide how to best use their benefits. Consequently, many 
SAA's are already doing this as an ancillary duty. We support this 
provision since it would require the remaining SAA's to begin outreach 
efforts. We recognize it is possible that SAA's staffed by only one or 
two persons may have difficulty taking on this added function. 
Consequently, if this provision were enacted, we would monitor these 
SAA's to assure it would have no adverse impact on their ability to 
perform their approval and oversight duties.
    VA estimates there would be no costs associated with the enactment 
of this section of H.R. 801.
    Section 204 would expand VA's responsibilities in providing 
outreach to potential beneficiaries who are eligible dependents of 
veterans. Specifically, this provision would broaden the definition of 
eligible dependents to include all spouses, surviving spouses, 
children, and dependent parents of persons having active service. The 
provision would also add a new section to title 38 for the stated 
purpose of ensuring that the needs of eligible dependents are fully 
addressed. The new provision would require the Secretary to ensure that 
the availability of outreach services and assistance for eligible 
dependents is made known through a variety of means, including the 
internet, announcements in veterans' publications, and announcements to 
the media. We agree with the importance of providing outreach to the 
broadest spectrum of eligible dependents and already have undertaken 
efforts to reach spouses, surviving spouses, children, and dependent 
parents of veterans.
    In the past, VA has been given latitude in the design, direction, 
content, and structure of outreach programs. Section 7727 provides 
specific direction as to the methods to be used for outreach to 
eligible dependents, to include use of the internet, announcements in 
veterans' publications, and announcements to the media. The internet 
has greatly expanded our ability to reach and assist veterans and their 
dependents. Through VA websites, veterans and dependents can obtain 
extensive information about VA benefits, print benefit applications, 
request additional information, or get assistance with specific claim 
issues. Through the Veterans On-Line Application, veterans can now 
apply for some benefits on-line. VA also fully utilizes the news media 
to make targeted groups aware of VA benefits and services. For example, 
in support of VA efforts to expand outreach to Vietnam veterans exposed 
to Agent Orange, the North American Precis Syndicate (NAPS) Veterans 
Day Package prepared by the Office of Public Affairs featured an 
article on Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange. Camera ready copies were 
sent to 10,000 newspapers and as a script to several thousand radio and 
TV stations. Thus, although we favor the objective of section 204, such 
legislation is not necessary to assure that we will engage in suitable 
outreach efforts directed toward eligible dependents.
    Section 205 would also expand VA's outreach responsibilities by 
requiring that, whenever a veteran or a dependent first applies for any 
VA benefit (including a request for burial or related benefits, or an 
application for life insurance proceeds), the Secretary provide to the 
applicant information concerning VA benefits and health care services.
    VA agrees that outreach to veterans and their dependents is an 
important part of its mission. We believe our current outreach efforts 
comply with the intent of the proposed legislation, which is to ensure 
that veterans and dependents are aware of and understand available 
benefits and services and are provided timely and appropriate 
assistance to aid and encourage them in applying for and obtaining such 
benefits and services.
    We assume it is intended that a common-sense approach be taken to 
administering this provision. In particular, we note that it would 
require us to provide to a veteran or dependent information concerning 
benefits and health care services when that person first requests 
burial or burial-related benefits. This typically would occur when a 
family member, usually with the help of a funeral director, makes 
arrangements for the burial of a loved one at a national cemetery or 
orders a headstone or marker for a loved one. We do not believe that 
this is the appropriate time to provide a veteran or a dependent 
information concerning eligibility for other benefits and services. 
This is a very sensitive period for grieving family members, and we do 
not believe the process should be encumbered with requirements for 
provision of information that the family members may not desire at that 
time. Nonetheless, we support the objective of section 205 and would 
not oppose its enactment if it were made clear the Department had the 
flexibility to use its discretion in the timing and manner of providing 
information so as to be sensitive as to the needs of the veteran's 
family members.
    We estimate that enactment of section 205 would result in an 
administrative cost to the National Cemetery Administration of $250,000 
annually. This estimate is based on 325,000 initial contacts annually 
by veterans and their dependents seeking burial benefits and includes 
the cost of postage and printing of informational brochures. Additional 
costs would be incurred by the Veterans Benefits Administration and the 
Veterans Health Administration. We request that language be included in 
this provision to authorize VA to use amounts appropriated for 
compensation and pensions to carry it out.
TITLE III-MEMORIAL AFFAIRS, INSURANCE, AND OTHER PROVISIONS
    Section 301(a) would increase the burial and funeral-expense 
allowances payable for service-connected deaths from $1,500 to $2,000 
and for nonservice-connected deaths from $300 to $500. Section 301(b) 
would increase, from $150 to $300, the plot allowance payable for 
veterans buried in State or private cemeteries. Pursuant to section 
301(c), these amounts would be indexed to increases in Social Security 
benefits under section 5312 of title 38. The initial increases in the 
various rates would be applicable to deaths occurring on or after the 
date of enactment of this legislation.
    The adequacy of the current rates must be judged in the context of 
the overall package of burial benefits available to veterans, and with 
reference to other competing needs for finite budget dollars. The 
Government has responded to veterans' burial needs in recent years by 
establishing several new National Cemeteries and by significantly 
enhancing the grant program under which State veterans cemeteries are 
established. The State Cemetery Grants Program now provides up to 100 
percent of the costs of construction associated with the establishment, 
expansion, or improvement of state veterans cemeteries. This 
partnership between VA and the states helps to support the Department's 
strategic goal of providing veterans with reasonable access to burial 
in a veterans cemetery. Since the 1998 enactment of Public Law 105-368, 
which in effect increased the permissible grant amount from 50 to 100 
percent of construction costs, there has been an increased interest 
from the states in the program, as reflected in the increased number of 
pre-applications received.
    Given the expanding availability of burial options within both 
National and State veterans cemeteries, and the competing demands for 
scarce VA resources, we can at this time support only that portion of 
Section 301 that would increase to $2,000 the burial and funeral-
expense allowance for service-connected deaths. The last increase (from 
$1,000 to $1,500) occurred in 1988. The greatest obligation is owed to 
the families of those who have paid the ultimate price for their 
service, and we believe such an increase is warranted in their case.
    Our preliminary cost estimate indicates that section 301 would 
result in benefit costs of $35 million in FY 2002 and a total benefit 
cost of $201 million for FYs 2002-2006. We estimate that an increase in 
only the service-connected burial allowance, from $1,500 to $2,000, 
would result in benefit costs of $5.3 million in FY 2002 and a 5-year 
benefit cost of $31.7 million.
    Section 302 would add a new section to title 38 to provide 
automatic Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) coverage to the 
spouses and certain children of insured, full-time, active-duty 
servicemembers. Section 302(b)(1) would provide $10,000 of SGLI 
coverage for children of eligible servicemembers. This section also 
would provide a maximum of $100,000 of SGLI coverage for the spouse of 
an eligible servicemember unless the servicemember elects not to insure 
the spouse or to purchase coverage in an amount less than $100,000 (in 
a multiple of $10,000) not to exceed the amount of the servicemember's 
SGLI coverage.
    SGLI coverage for family members would end upon: (1) the written 
election of the servicemember; (2) 120 days after the member's death; 
(3) the date on which the servicemember's SGLI coverage is terminated; 
(4) the date of the dependent's death; or (5) 120 days after the date 
on which the insured's status as the child or spouse terminates. If a 
spouse's coverage were terminated by one of these events, the spouse 
would have the option to convert the SGLI coverage to commercial 
coverage.
    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs would have the authority to set 
premiums for spouses. No premiums would be charged for SGLI coverage 
for children. The military departments and the Departments of 
Transportation, Commerce, and Health and Human Services, in 
consultation with VA, would be required to take action to ensure that 
every servicemember on active duty during the period between enactment 
of this legislation and the effective date of the bill is furnished 
information about family SGLI coverage and provided an opportunity to 
make an election.
    VA defers to the Department of Defense regarding the need to offer 
family SGLI coverage to insured, active-duty servicemembers. VA, 
however, has a few technical concerns with section 302 as drafted that 
relate to VA's administration of the SGLI program. New section 1967A 
would use the term ``spouse'' and ``dependent spouse'' interchangeably, 
but there is no definition of the term ``dependent'' in the draft bill. 
In addition, that section uses the terms ``dependent'' and ``insurable 
dependent'' interchangeably.
    With regard to termination of a spouse's SGLI, section 302(c)(1)(D) 
would provide inconsistent time frames for terminating SGLI coverage. 
New section 1968(a)(5)(A) and (B)(ii) would provide that coverage would 
terminate immediately upon the member's election or upon termination of 
the member's SGLI coverage. However, new section 1968(a)(5)(B)(i) and 
(iv) would provide that coverage would terminate 120 days after the 
member's death or termination of status as an insurable dependent. In 
order to maintain consistency, VA recommends that section 302(c)(1)(D) 
be amended to provide in section 1968(a)(5)(A) and (B)(ii) that 
coverage would terminate 120 days after an election by a member or 
termination of an insured's SGLI coverage. VA further recommends that 
section 302(f) be amended by adding a sentence to new section 
1968(b)(3)(A) stating that the individual policy of insurance would be 
effective the day after the spouse's SGLI terminates.
    Section 302(e) would amend 38 U.S.C., section 1970, by adding a new 
subsection (h). However, section 1970 currently includes a subsection 
(h). VA therefore recommends that section 302(e) be amended by 
redesignating the new subsection it would add to section 1970 as 
subsection (i).
    Finally, section 1968(b), as amended by section 302(f), would 
provide that, upon the election of a spouse, an SGLI policy ``may be 
converted to an individual policy of insurance as described in'' 38 
U.S.C., section 1977(e), which pertains to conversion of Veterans' 
Group Life Insurance (VGLI) to an individual policy of insurance. In 
order to clarify that a spouse's individual policy would be issued 
under the same conditions as a plan to which a VGLI insured can 
convert, VA recommends that new section 1968(b)(3)(A) be amended to 
provide that the conversion policy would be issued without medical 
examination.
    There would be no costs to the Government associated with section 
302.
    Section 303 would increase, from $8,000 to $9,000, the amount of 
monetary assistance VA may provide to a certain disabled veterans to 
facilitate their purchase of automobiles. This monetary allowance was 
last increased in 1998, from $5,500 to the present level, by Public Law 
105-178. In view of increases in the cost of motor vehicles that have 
occurred since that time, we believe the proposed increase is 
reasonable, and we support it.
    Our preliminary cost estimate indicates that section 303 would 
result in benefit costs of $1 million in FY 2002 and a total benefit 
cost of $5 million for FYs 2002-2006.
    Section 304 of H.R. 801 would increase the grants authorized by 
section 2101 of title 38, United States Code, to veterans with 
qualifying service-connected disabilities. These grants assist the 
eligible veterans make adaptations to their homes that are necessary 
because of the nature of the veterans' disabilities. The bill would 
raise the Specially Adapted Housing Grant, authorized by section 
2101(a), from $43,000 to $48,000, and the Special Housing Adaptation 
Grant, authorized by section 2101(b), from $8,250 to $9,250.
    The current grant amounts were set by Public Law 105-178, effective 
October 1, 1998. Cost data obtained by VA in 1998 showed that increases 
of up to $50,000 and $8500, respectively, would have been justified. In 
FY 2000, 99 percent of the veterans determined eligible for these 
grants used the maximum grant amount and, in most cases, required 
additional funding to complete their adaptations. Based on our initial 
research, we believe that the proposed increase in these grant amounts 
is necessary and appropriate to keep pace with increased costs.
    VA, therefore, strongly supports the adjustments contained in H.R. 
801. VA estimates that section 304 of H.R. 801 would have an annual 
cost of approximately $2.74 million and a 5-year cost of approximately 
$13.68 million.
    Section 305 would revise standards for determining net worth for 
purposes of veterans' entitlement to nonservice-connected disability 
pension. The applicable provision of law, section 1522(a) of title 38, 
would be amended to include a requirement that, in determining the 
corpus of the estate of a veteran, the value of the veteran's and the 
veteran's spouse's real property would be excluded if the property were 
used for farming, ranching, or similar agricultural purposes. Because 
this provision could result in disparate treatment for similarly 
situated claimants, we do not support it.
    The change apparently is intended to benefit farmers or ranchers 
who may have significant real property holdings, but little available 
cash or other liquid assets and for whom the real property, while 
having commercial value, serves as a home.
    We do not believe, however, that such claimants should be treated 
differently from other similarly circumstanced claimants who may own 
real property with commercial value that may be attached to or in close 
proximity to their places of residence (for example, a duplex home 
where one unit is used for rental purposes). In such a case, the value 
of the rental property (one half the value of the home) would be taken 
into consideration for purposes of determining the claimant's net 
worth, while at the same time the value of the agricultural property of 
another claimant that may equal or exceed the value of the former's 
duplex rental would be excluded. We believe such a result would be 
inequitable. In addition, we believe the proposed amendment would 
unduly add a significant level of complexity to determinations 
affecting claimants' net worth that would not serve to benefit veterans 
as a whole.
    Section 305 is subject to the PAYGO requirements of the OBRA, and, 
if enacted, it would increase direct spending. Our preliminary cost 
estimate indicates that section 305 would result in benefit costs of 
$18,286 in FY 2002 and a total benefit cost of $399,796 for FYs 2002-
2006.
    Section 306 would make needed technical amendments to section 107 
of title 38, to reconcile and clarify recent amendments made by Public 
Laws 106-377 and 106-419 that affect the rate of payment of burial 
benefits and compensation to certain Filipino veterans. These 
amendments are crucial to implementation of the provisions affected and 
should be enacted separately should passage of this bill be delayed.
    There are no costs associated with these technical amendments.

                   Transitional Housing Pilot Program

    Mr. Chairman, you requested a status report on VA's implementation 
of the new guaranteed loan program for multifamily transitional housing 
projects for homeless veterans. This pilot loan program was established 
by Public Law 105-368, enacted November 11, 1998. Under this new 
program, VA is authorized to guarantee up to 15 loans with a maximum 
aggregate principal balance of $100 million.
    As you are aware, Mr. Chairman, the Office of Management and Budget 
recently agreed to waive Executive Branch policy contained in OMB 
Circular A-129 and permit VA to provide a 100 percent guaranty on these 
loans. Having just resolved this major issue, VA is able to resume its 
preparations for selecting the first projects to be financed under this 
program. We are hopeful that this selection process will be well under 
way by the last quarter of the current calendar year.
    Due to the complex and unique nature of this new program, the 
statute mandated that VA enter into contracts for consulting services 
with organizations experienced with transitional housing projects. 
Although this program was established in 1998, VA did not receive 
funding for these contracts or the other administrative expenses until 
Fiscal Year 2000.
    In January 2000, VA contracted with the consulting firm, Birch and 
Davis Associates, Inc. As part of their team, Birch and Davis included 
a subcontractor, Century Housing Corporation Corp., of Culver City, 
California. Century Housing has experience in the developing and 
financing of transitional housing for homeless veterans, including the 
Westside Residence Hall in Los Angeles, California, which we understand 
was the model on which this legislation was based.
    The contractor made numerous recommendations regarding the 
structure and implementation of this pilot program. Among Century's 
recommendations was that VA provide a 100 percent guaranty. OMB, 
however, objected to that level of guaranty, since Executive Branch 
policy disfavors any loan guaranty in excess of 80 percent.
    A loan guaranty program normally involves a party seeking financing 
from a commercial lender. VA assumed this would be the case under the 
pilot program. OMB advised us, however, that if the 100 percent 
guaranty were approved, the loans would be made by the Federal 
Financing Bank, a Government corporation under the general supervision 
of the Secretary of the Treasury.
    Until the issues of the level of guaranty and who would fund the 
loans were resolved, VA could not proceed on developing the mechanics 
of this program. As we have noted, Mr. Chairman, OMB recently approved 
the 100 percent guaranty.
    During the interim, however, VA continued with the planning 
process. The Under Secretary for Health approved the formation of two 
committees. These were:

     LThe Location Site Selection Committee (LSSC), which was 
tasked with identifying and recommending specific sites where VA would 
seek proposal for projects to be funded by the pilot program; and

     LThe Loan Guarantee Selection Committee (LGSC) which will 
be reviewing proposed projects and recommending to the Secretary which 
projects should be approved for a loan.

    This is a limited pilot program, and a maximum of 15 loans may be 
made. VA does not believe it is feasible, at least initially, to fund 
more than two or three projects. After the initial projects are well 
under way, VA plans to review the process and make necessary 
administrative alterations before proceeding with the next round of 
projects.
    We do not believe a Nationwide competition would be feasible. 
Therefore, we will be seeking proposals for projects in only a limited 
number of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) designated by the 
Secretary. Therefore, the LSSC began its work during the summer of 
2000, and developed criteria for determining the geographic areas where 
projects will be located. The LSSC then reviewed available data, and 
came up with preliminary recommendations for selection of the initial 
MSAs. The committee's recommendations are now under review in the 
Department.
    VA is now working with the Federal Financing Bank (FFB) on 
developing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretary and the 
FFB regarding the funding and guaranteeing of loans under this program. 
VA is also reviewing the contractor's recommendations to determine what 
changes may be necessary, since loans will be made by the FFB rather 
than commercial lenders.
    VA's next steps will be:

     LFinalize the administrative guidelines that will govern 
the initial loans;

     LAcquire private-sector services necessary for the 
implementation of this program. While no final decisions have been 
make, we anticipate contracting for loan underwriting recommendations 
from a private lender experienced with financing multifamily housing 
projects for or low-income persons, and for a loan servicing and 
project oversight services; and

     LIssuing requests for proposals in the highest priority 
MSAs.

We hope to be able to issue the initial RFPs before the end of the 
current fiscal year.

    We must caution the Committee that this will be a slow process. We 
know the needs of homeless veterans are great and VA wishes to add the 
additional beds as quickly as possible. There is, however, no model for 
this type of federal loan guaranty program, and, as we break new 
ground, we must be cautious. We must give developers sufficient time to 
draft workable proposals, and take the time to review all applications 
carefully. We must also be aware that constructing a new multifamily 
housing project would likely take two or more years.
    We will, however, continue to move ahead on this important new 
program, and hope to have homeless veterans taking advantage of the new 
facilities as soon as reasonably possible.
    Mr. Chairman, that concludes my testimony. I would be pleased to 
reply to any questions you or Members of the Subcommittee may have.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    The following letter was received from the Congressional 
Budget Office concerning the cost of the reported bill:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                    Washington, DC, March 22, 2001.
Hon. Christopher H. Smith
Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 801, the Veterans' 
Opportunities Act of 2001.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Sarah T. 
Jennings, who can be reached at 226-2840.
            Sincerely,
                                            Dan L. Crippen,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

               CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

 H.R. 801, Veterans' Opportunities Act of 2001, as ordered reported by 
       the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs on March 21, 2001

    SUMMARY. H.R. 801 contains provisions that would affect a 
range of veterans' programs, including burial benefits, 
readjustment benefits, and pensions. The bill also would extend 
coverage under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and 
expand outreach efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs 
(VA). CBO estimates that enacting this bill would increase 
direct spending by $46 million in 2002, $290 million over the 
2002-2006 period, and about $700 million over the 2002-2011 
period. Direct spending would also increase in fiscal year 2001 
should the bill be enacted before the end of this fiscal year. 
In addition, implementing the bill would increase spending 
subject to appropriation by less than $500,000 a year.
    Because the bill would affect direct spending, pay-as-you-
go procedures would apply. H.R. 801 contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). Any costs to states as a 
result of enactment of this bill would be incurred voluntarily.

    ESTIMATED COST TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. The estimated 
budgetary impact of H.R. 801 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 700 
(veterans benefits and services).


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             By Fiscal Year, Outlays in Millions of Dollars
                                                     -----------------------------------------------------------
                                                        2001      2002      2003      2004      2005      2006
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                 DIRECT SPENDING

                                            Veterans' Burial Benefits

Spending Under Current Law..........................       133       128       129       131       131       133

Proposed Changes....................................         0        36        38        41        43        46

Spending Under H.R. 801.............................       133       164       167       172       174       179


                                         Veterans' Readjustment Benefits

Spending Under Current Law..........................     1,693     1,880     2,000     2,107     2,238     2,341

Proposed Changes
  Training for Technological Occupations............         0         2         3         4         5         6
  Distance Education................................         0         1         2         2         3         3
  Work-Study........................................         0         1         2         2         3         3
  MGIB Eligibility..................................         0         0         *         *         *         *
  Adapted Housing Grants............................         0         4         4         5         5         5
  Automobile Grants.................................         0         1         1         2         2         2
    Subtotal-Proposed Changes.......................         0         9        12        15        18        19

Spending Under H.R. 801.............................     1,693     1,889     2,012     2,122     2,256     2,360


                                               Veterans' Pensions

Spending Under Current Law..........................     2,836     3,142     3,155     3,182     3,545     3,233

Proposed Changes....................................         0         1         2         3         3         4

Spending Under H.R. 801.............................     2,836     3,143     3,157     3,185     3,548     3,237


                                      Summary of Changes in Direct Spending

Estimated Outlays...................................         0        46        52        59        64        69

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTES: * = Less than $500,000.
         Estimated changes in budget authority would equal estimated changes in outlays.


    BASIS OF ESTIMATE. The bill would raise direct spending in 
several programs, including burial benefits, readjustment 
benefits, and pensions.

    Burial Benefits. Section 301 would increase three different 
burial benefits and index those payments after 2001 to the same 
cost-of-living adjustments payable to Social Security 
recipients. The allowance to help cover burial and funeral 
expenses for veterans whose deaths are attributed to a service-
connected disability would increase from the current rate of 
$1,500 to $2,000. Based on information from the VA, CBO 
estimates that this provision would apply to 9,600-9,800 
burials per year and would cost $5 million in 2002, $33 million 
over the 2002-2006 period, and $79 million over the 2002-2011 
period.
    This section also would increase burial benefits from $300 
to $500 for veterans who were receiving compensation or pension 
payments at the time of their deaths or who died in a VA 
facility or other department-approved nursing home or hospital. 
The benefit is also available in cases when the veteran's body 
is held by a government entity and there is no next of kin or 
otherwise available resources to cover burial expenses. CBO 
estimates that this provision would apply to approximately 
80,000 burials per year and would cost $18 million in 2002, $99 
million over the 2002-2006 period, and $219 million over the 
2002-2011 period.
    Section 301 also would increase the burial plot allowance 
from $150 to $300. This allowance can be paid to a state or 
local veterans' cemetery or a public cemetery with a separate 
veterans' section that buries a qualified veteran without 
charging for the cost of a plot or interment. It can also be 
paid to the family of a qualified veteran who is buried in a 
private cemetery or in a general section of a public cemetery. 
CBO estimates that this provision would cost $13 million in 
2002, $75 million over the 2002-2006 period, and $177 million 
over the 2002-2011 period.

    Readjustment Benefits. Title I contains several provisions 
that would enhance veterans' education benefits and expand 
eligibility for certain readjustment benefits.
    Training for technological occupations.--Section 103 would 
expand the types of education allowed under the Montgomery GI 
Bill (MGIB) to include training required for certification in 
technological occupations. Based on information from the VA and 
local technical training schools, CBO estimates this would 
increase the trainee population by about 0.5 percent over 
several years at a 10-year cost of $60 million.

    Distance education.--Under current law, independent study 
programs are allowed under MGIB only if they lead to a standard 
college degree. Section 105 would allow independent study in 
certificate-granting programs. Based on information from the 
VA, CBO estimates this provision would increase the trainee 
population by 0.2 percent over several years at a 10-year cost 
of $27 million.

    Work-study.--Section 102 would expand the opportunities of 
veterans receiving education benefits to receive work-study 
stipends. Currently, the jobs available under the work-study 
program are limited to providing services required in 
connection with VA activities, or the administration of 
veterans' education programs for the military reserves, the 
National Guard or the Coast Guard. Under this bill, eligible 
veterans would be paid work-study stipends for work in the 
department of their major academic discipline or in certain 
state-operated facilities that assist veterans. Based on 
information from the VA, CBO estimates the increased 
opportunities would result in approximately 1,500 additional 
work-study participants a year, at a 10-year cost of about $29 
million.

    MGIB eligibility.--Section 101 would increase the number of 
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) graduates that are 
eligible to participate in MGIB. Currently, reservists who 
receive ROTC scholarships for tuition and fees totaling more 
than $2,000 for every year they participate in the program may 
not subsequently begin to participate in the MGIB. This bill 
would raise that maximum to $3,400 a year. Based on information 
from the Defense Department, CBO estimates that an extra 800 
ROTC graduates a year would enter the military eligible to 
participate in MGIB, beginning in fiscal year 2002. Using 
normal retention patterns and MGIB usage rates, CBO estimates 
this provision would result in a cost of $12 million over the 
2006-2011 period.

    Adapted housing grants.--Section 305 would increase the 
amounts of grants provided to aid certain severely disabled 
veterans to acquire specially adapted housing or to modify 
their current residence. The grants to the most severely 
disabled would be increased from $43,000 to $48,000. For those 
veterans with certain specific but lesser disabilities, the 
current grant of $8,250 would be increased to $9,250. Assuming 
a slight increase in participation in the program, CBO 
estimates the cost would be about $4 million in 2002, $22 
million over the 2002-2006 period, and $46 million over the 
2002-2011 period.
    Automobile Grants.--Section 304 would increase the amount 
of grants available to certain severely disabled veterans for 
the purchase of an automobile and adaptive equipment. Based on 
current usage, and allowing for an increase in demand for such 
grants, CBO estimates that increasing the grant from $8,000 to 
$9,000 would increase costs by about $15 million over 10 years.

    Pension Benefits. Under current law, veterans with low 
incomes may apply for pension benefits if their permanent and 
total disabilities are not service-connected and they have at 
least 90 days of active military service, one day of which was 
during a period of war. The payment of pensions can be denied 
or discontinued if VA determines that the estate of the veteran 
is large enough that some part of it could be consumed for the 
veteran's maintenance. Section 306 would exclude from this 
determination any real property that is used for farming, 
ranching, and similar agricultural purposes.
    VA estimates that about 130 claims were denied in 2000 
because of the value of veterans' real property. Most of the 
land involved in those cases is probably being used for 
agricultural purposes since low-income veterans would be 
unlikely to afford the higher tax burden on lands used for 
other purposes. CBO assumes the number of claims that would be 
affected by this section will likely decline in future years as 
the overall number of pension cases declines. Using an average 
yearly benefit of $6,438 and an automatic cost-of-living 
adjustment, CBO estimates that enacting this bill would 
increase spending for pension benefits by about $1 million in 
2002, $13 million over the 2002-2006 period, and $37 million 
over the 2002-2011 period. These figures include an assumption 
that VA will see a higher number of claims in the first year 
after enactment as veterans who had recently been denied 
pension benefits due to the value of their real property apply 
again under the new law. Given the advanced age and declining 
health of the average pension claimant, CBO assumes that only 
one-third of those who had been denied pensions within the last 
three years will reapply.

    SGLI. Section 302 would expand coverage of SGLI to include 
dependents of active-duty servicemembers and reservists. 
Section 303 would make retroactive to October 1, 2000, an 
increase in the maximum coverage amount of SGLI for 
servicemembers who have died in the performance of duty. Since 
premiums paid by policy holders cover all the costs of this 
program, neither section would have any net budgetary impact.

    Other Provisions. The following provisions would have an 
insignificant budgetary impact:

           LSection 104 would extend eligibility for 
        restorative training to the spouses of certain disabled 
        or deceased veterans. Based on information from the VA, 
        CBO expects few people would be affected by this 
        provision.

           LSection 205 directs the VA to intensify its 
        veterans outreach program by providing information on 
        all veterans' and dependents' benefits when a veteran 
        or dependent first applies to VA for any benefit. Based 
        on information from the VA, this increased outreach, 
        which would be subject to the availability of 
        appropriations, would cost less than $500,000 annually.

    PAY-AS-YOU-GO CONSIDERATIONS. The Balanced Budget and 
Emergency Deficit Control Act sets up pay-as-you-go procedures 
for legislation affecting direct spending or receipts. The net 
changes in outlays and governmental receipts that are subject 
to pay-as-you-go procedures are shown in the following table. 
For the purposes of enforcing pay-as-you-go procedures, only 
the effects in the current year, the budget year, and the 
succeeding four years are counted.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                         By Fiscal Year, in Millions of Dollars
                                                              ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                2001    2002    2003     2004     2005     2006    2007    2008    2009    2010    2011
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Changes in outlays...........................................       0      46      52       59       64       69      73      77      82      86      90
Changes in receipts..........................................                                        Not Applicable
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    INTERGOVERNMENTAL AND PRIVATE-SECTOR IMPACT. H.R 801 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA. Provision of the bill would require state 
approving agencies (state offices that approve programs of 
study for eligibility under veterans' educational assistance) 
to provide outreach services to eligible veterans. Because 
these services are provided voluntarily by states under a 
contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the new 
duties are not considered mandates under UMRA. Furthermore, 
because such services are already being provided under current 
law, states would incur no significant additional costs.

    ESTIMATE PREPARED BY:
        Federal Costs: Sarah Jennings and Michelle S. Patterson 
        (226-2840).
        Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Susan 
        Sieg Tompkins (225-3220).
        Impact on the Private Sector: Sally Sagraves (226-
        2925).

    ESTIMATE APPROVED BY:
        Robert A. Sunshine, Assistant Director for Budget 
        Analysis.

                     Inflationary Impact Statement

    The enactment of the reported bill would have no 
inflationary impact.

                  Applicability to Legislative Branch

    The reported bill would not be applicable to the 
legislative branch under the Congressional Accountability Act, 
Public Law 104-1, because the bill would only affect certain 
Department of Veterans Affairs programs and benefits 
recipients.

                     Statement of Federal Mandates

    The reported bill would not establish a federal mandate 
under the Unfunded Reform Act, Public Law 104-4.

                 Statement of Constitutional Authority

    Pursuant to Article I, section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, the reported bill is authorized by Congress' 
power to ``provide for the common Defense and general Welfare 
of the United States.''

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italics, existing law in which no change 
is proposed is shown in roman):

TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


PART I--GENERAL PROVISIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 1--GENERAL

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 101. Definitions

  For the purposes of this title--
  (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (4)(A) The term ``child'' means (except for purposes of 
chapter 19 of this title (other than with respect to a child 
who is an insurable dependent under section 1965(10)(B) of such 
chapter) and section 8502(b) of this title) a person who is 
unmarried and--

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 107. Certain service deemed not to be active service

  (a) Service before July 1, 1946, in the organized military 
forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the 
Philippine/s, while such forces were in the service of the 
Armed Forces of the United States pursuant to the military 
order of the President dated July 26, 1941, including among 
such military forces organized guerrilla forces under 
commanders appointed, designated, or subsequently recognized by 
the Commander in Chief, Southwest Pacific Area, or other 
competent authority in the Army of the United States, shall not 
be deemed to have been active military, naval, or air service 
for the purposes of any law of the United States conferring 
rights, privileges, or benefits upon any person by reason of 
the service of such person or the service of any other person 
in the Armed Forces, except benefits under--
          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

Except as provided in subsection (c) or (d), payments under 
such chapters shall be made at a rate of $0.50 for each dollar 
authorized, and where annual income is a factor in entitlement 
to benefits, the dollar limitations in the law specifying such 
annual income shall apply at a rate of $0.50 for each dollar. 
Any payments made before February 18, 1946, to any such member 
under such laws conferring rights, benefits, or privileges 
shall not be deemed to have been invalid by reason of the 
circumstance that such member's service was not service in the 
Armed Forces or any component thereof within the meaning of any 
such law.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (c) In the case of benefits under subchapters II and IV of 
chapter 11 of this title paid by reason of service described in 
subsection (a) to an individual residing in the United States 
who is a citizen of, or an alien lawfully admitted for 
permanent residence in, the United States, the second sentence 
of subsection (a) shall not apply.
  [(c)] (d)(1) [In] With respect to benefits under chapter 23 
of this title, in the case of an individual described in 
paragraph (2), the second sentence of subsection (a) shall not 
apply.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


PART II--GENERAL BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


 CHAPTER 15--PENSION FOR NON-SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABILITY OR DEATH OR 
FOR SERVICE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



SUBCHAPTER II--VETERANS' PROVISIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



non-service-connected disability pension

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 1522. Net worth limitation

  (a) The Secretary shall deny or discontinue the payment of 
pension to a veteran under section 1521 of this title when the 
corpus of the estate of the veteran or, if the veteran has a 
spouse, the corpus of the estates of the veteran and of the 
veteran's spouse is such that under all the circumstances, 
including consideration of the annual income of the veteran, 
the veteran's spouse, and the veteran's children, it is 
reasonable that some part of the corpus of such estates be 
consumed for the veteran's maintenance. In determining the 
corpus of the estates of the veteran and the veteran's spouse, 
if any, the value of the real property of the veteran and the 
veteran's spouse and children shall be excluded if such 
property is used for farming, ranching, or similar agricultural 
purposes.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 19--INSURANCE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


           SUBCHAPTER III--SERVICEMEN'S GROUP LIFE INSURANCE

Sec. 1965. Definitions

  For the purpose of this subchapter--
          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          (10) The term ``insurable dependent'', with respect 
        to a member, means the following:
                  (A) The member's spouse.
                  (B) The member's child, as defined in the 
                first sentence of section 101(4)(A) of this 
                title.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 1967. Persons insured; amount

  [(a) Any policy of insurance purchased by the Secretary under 
section 1966 of this title shall automatically insure against 
death--
          [(1) any member of a uniformed service on active 
        duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty 
        training scheduled in advance by competent authority; 
        and
          [(2) any member of the Ready Reserve of a uniformed 
        service who meets the qualifications set forth in 
        section 1965(5)(B) of this title;
in the amount of $200,000, unless such member elects in writing 
(A) not to be insured under this subchapter, or (B) to be 
insured in an amount less than $200,000 that is evenly 
divisible by $10,000. The insurance shall be effective the 
first day of active duty or active duty for training, or the 
beginning of a period of inactive duty training scheduled in 
advance by competent authority, or the first day a member of 
the Ready Reserve meets the qualifications set forth in 
subparagraph (B) or (C) of section 1965(5) of this title, or 
the date certified by the Secretary to the Secretary concerned 
as the date Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance under this 
subchapter for the class or group concerned takes effect, 
whichever is the later date.]
  (a)(1) Subject to an election under paragraph (2), any policy 
of insurance purchased by the Secretary under section 1966 of 
this title shall automatically insure the following persons 
against death:
          (A) In the case of any member of a uniformed service 
        on active duty (other than active duty for training)--
                  (i) the member; and
                  (ii) each insurable dependent of the member.
          (B) Any member of a uniformed service on active duty 
        for training or inactive duty training scheduled in 
        advance by competent authority.
          (C) In the case of any member of the Ready Reserve of 
        a uniformed service who meets the qualifications set 
        forth in section 1965(5)(B) of this title--
                  (i) the member; and
                  (ii) each insurable dependent of the member.
  (2)(A) A member may elect in writing not to be insured under 
this subchapter.
  (B) A member may elect in writing not to insure the member's 
spouse under this subchapter.
  (3)(A) Subject to subparagraphs (B) and (C), the amount for 
which a person is insured under this subchapter is as follows:
          (i) In the case of a member, $250,000.
          (ii) In the case of a member's spouse, $100,000.
          (iii) In the case of a member's child, $10,000.
  (B) A member may elect in writing to be insured or to insure 
the member's spouse in an amount less than the amount provided 
for under subparagraph (A). The member may not elect to insure 
the member's child in an amount less than $10,000. The amount 
of insurance so elected shall, in the case of a member or 
spouse, be evenly divisible by $10,000.
  (C) In no case may the amount of insurance coverage under 
this subsection of a member's spouse exceed the amount of 
insurance coverage of the member.
  (4)(A) An insurable dependent of a member is not insured 
under this chapter unless the member is insured under this 
subchapter.
  (B) An insurable dependent who is a child may not be insured 
at any time by the insurance coverage under this chapter of 
more than one member. If an insurable dependent who is a child 
is otherwise eligible to be insured by the coverage of more 
than one member under this chapter, the child shall be insured 
by the coverage of the member whose eligibility for insurance 
under this subchapter occurred first, except that if that 
member does not have legal custody of the child, the child 
shall be insured by the coverage of the member who has legal 
custody of the child.
  (5) The insurance shall be effective with respect to a member 
and the insurable dependents of the member on the latest of the 
following dates:
          (A) The first day of active duty or active duty for 
        training.
          (B) The beginning of a period of inactive duty 
        training scheduled in advance by competent authority.
          (C) The first day a member of the Ready Reserve meets 
        the qualifications set forth in section 1965(5)(B) of 
        this title.
          (D) The date certified by the Secretary to the 
        Secretary concerned as the date Servicemembers' Group 
        Life Insurance under this subchapter for the class or 
        group concerned takes effect.
          (E) In the case of an insurable dependent who is a 
        spouse, the date of marriage of the spouse to the 
        member.
          (F) In the case of an insurable dependent who is a 
        child, the date of birth of such child or, if the child 
        is not the natural child of the member, the date on 
        which the child acquires status as an insurable 
        dependent of the member.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (c) [If any member elects not to be insured under this 
subchapter or to be insured in any amount less than $200,000, 
such member may thereafter be insured under this subchapter in 
the amount of $200,000 or any lesser amount evenly divisible by 
$10,000 upon written application, proof of good health, and 
compliance with such other terms and conditions as may be 
prescribed by the Secretary.] If a person eligible for 
insurance under this subchapter is not so insured, or is 
insured for less than the maximum amount provided for the 
person under subparagraph (A) of subsection (a)(3), by reason 
of an election made by a member under subparagraph (B) of that 
subsection, the person may thereafter be insured under this 
subchapter in the maximum amount or any lesser amount elected 
as provided in such subparagraph (B) upon written application 
by the member, proof of good health of each person (other than 
a child) to be so insured, and compliance with such other terms 
and conditions as may be prescribed by the Secretary. Any 
former member insured under Veterans' Group Life Insurance who 
again becomes eligible for Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance 
and declines such coverage solely for the purpose of 
maintaining such member's Veterans' Group Life Insurance in 
effect shall upon termination of coverage under Veterans' Group 
Life Insurance be automatically insured under Servicemen's 
Group Life Insurance, if otherwise eligible therefor.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 1968. Duration and termination of coverage; conversion

  (a) Each policy purchased under this subchapter shall contain 
a provision, in terms approved by the Secretary, to the effect 
that any insurance thereunder on any member of the uniformed 
services, and any insurance thereunder on any insurable 
dependent of such a member, unless discontinued or reduced upon 
the written request of the insured (or discontinued pursuant to 
section 1969(a)(2)(B) of this title), shall continue in effect 
while the member is on active duty, active duty for training, 
or inactive duty training scheduled in advance by competent 
authority during the period thereof, or while the member meets 
the qualifications set forth in subparagraph (B) or (C) of 
section 1965(5) of this title[, and such insurance shall 
cease--] and such insurance shall cease as follows:
          (1) [with] With respect to a member on active duty or 
        active duty for training under a call or order to duty 
        that does not specify a period of less than [thirty-one 
        days--] 31 days, insurance under this subchapter shall 
        cease--
                  (A) [one hundred and twenty days] 120 days 
                after the separation or release from active 
                duty or active duty for training, unless on the 
                date of such separation or release the member 
                is totally disabled, under criteria established 
                by the Secretary, in which event the insurance 
                shall cease one year after the date of 
                separation or release from such active duty or 
                active duty for training, or on the date the 
                insured ceases to be totally disabled, 
                whichever is the earlier date, but in no event 
                [prior to the expiration of one hundred and 
                twenty days] before the end of 120 days after 
                such separation or release; or
                  (B) at the end of the thirty-first day of a 
                continuous period of (i) absence without leave, 
                (ii) confinement by civil authorities under a 
                sentence adjudged by a civilian court, or (iii) 
                confinement by military authorities under a 
                courtmartial sentence involving total 
                forfeiture of pay and allowances. Any insurance 
                so terminated as the result of such an absence 
                or confinement, together with any beneficiary 
                designation in effect for such insurance at 
                such termination thereof, shall be 
                automatically revived as of the date the member 
                is restored to active duty with pay or to 
                active duty for training with pay[;].
          (2) [with] With respect to a member on active duty or 
        active duty for training under a call or order to duty 
        that specifies a period of less than [thirty-one days] 
        31 days, insurance under this subchapter shall cease at 
        midnight, local time, on the last day of such duty, 
        unless on such date the insured is suffering from a 
        disability incurred or aggravated during such period 
        which, within [one hundred and twenty days] 120 days 
        after such date, (i) results in death, or (ii) renders 
        the member uninsurable at standard premium rates 
        according to the good health standards approved by the 
        Secretary, in which event the insurance shall continue 
        in force to death, or for [one hundred and twenty days] 
        120 days after such date, whichever is the earlier 
        date[;].
          (3) [with] With respect to a member on inactive duty 
        training scheduled in advance by competent authority, 
        insurance under this subchapter shall cease at the end 
        of such scheduled training period, unless at such time 
        the insured is suffering from a disability incurred, or 
        aggravated during such period which, within [one 
        hundred and twenty days] 120 days after the date of 
        such training, (i) results in death, or (ii) renders 
        the member uninsurable at standard premium rates 
        according to the good health standards approved by the 
        Secretary in which event the insurance shall continue 
        in force to death, or for [one hundred and twenty days] 
        120 days after the date such training terminated, 
        whichever is the earlier date[; and].
          (4) [with] With respect to a member of the Ready 
        Reserve of a uniformed service who meets the 
        qualifications set forth in subparagraph (B) or (C) of 
        section 1965(5) of this title, insurance under this 
        subchapter shall cease 120 days after separation or 
        release from such assignment, unless on the date of 
        such separation or release the member is totally 
        disabled, under criteria established by the Secretary, 
        in which event the insurance shall cease one year after 
        the date of separation or release from such assignment, 
        or on the date the insured ceases to be totally 
        disabled, whichever is the earlier date, but in no 
        event before the end of 120 days after separation or 
        release from such assignment.
          (5) With respect to an insurable dependent of the 
        member, insurance under this subchapter shall cease--
                  (A) 120 days after the date of an election 
                made in writing by the member to terminate the 
                coverage; or
                  (B) on the earliest of--
                          (i) 120 days after the date of the 
                        member's death;
                          (ii) 120 days after the date of 
                        termination of the insurance on the 
                        member's life under this subchapter; or
                          (iii) 120 days after the termination 
                        of the dependent's status as an 
                        insurable dependent of the member.
  (b)(1) Each policy purchased under this subchapter shall 
contain a provision, in terms approved by the Secretary, that, 
except as hereinafter provided, Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance which is continued in force after expiration of the 
period of duty or travel under section 1967(b) or 1968(a) of 
this title, effective the day after the date such insurance 
would cease--
          (A) shall be automatically converted to Veterans' 
        Group Life Insurance (to insure against death of the 
        member only), subject to (i) the timely payment of the 
        initial premium under terms prescribed by the 
        Secretary, and (ii) the terms and conditions set forth 
        in section 1977 of this title; or

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (3)(A) In the case of a policy purchased under this 
subchapter for an insurable dependent who is a spouse, upon 
election of the spouse, the policy may be converted to an 
individual policy of insurance under the same conditions as 
described in section 1977(e) of this title (with respect to 
conversion of a Veterans' Group Life Insurance policy to such 
an individual policy) upon written application for conversion 
made to the participating company selected by the spouse and 
payment of the required premiums. Conversion of such policy to 
Veterans' Group Life Insurance is prohibited.
  (B) In the case of a policy purchased under this subchapter 
for an insurable dependent who is a child, such policy may not 
be converted under this subsection.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 1969. Deductions; payment; investment; expenses

  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (g)(1)(A) During any period in which a spouse of a member is 
insured under this subchapter and the member is on active duty, 
there shall be deducted each month from the member's basic or 
other pay until separation or release from active duty an 
amount determined by the Secretary as the premium allocable to 
the pay period for providing that insurance coverage. No 
premium may be charged for providing insurance coverage for a 
child.
  (B) During any month in which a member is assigned to the 
Ready Reserve of a uniformed service under conditions which 
meet the qualifications set forth in section 1965(5)(B) of this 
title and the spouse of the member is insured under a policy of 
insurance purchased by the Secretary under section 1966 of this 
title, there shall be contributed from the appropriation made 
for active duty pay of the uniformed service concerned an 
amount determined by the Secretary (which shall be the same for 
all such members) as the share of the cost attributable to 
insuring the spouse of such member under this policy, less any 
costs traceable to the extra hazards of such duty in the 
uniformed services. Any amounts so contributed on behalf of any 
individual shall be collected by the Secretary concerned from 
such individual (by deduction from pay or otherwise) and shall 
be credited to the appropriation from which such contribution 
was made.
  (2)(A) The Secretary shall determine the premium amounts to 
be charged for life insurance coverage for spouses of members 
under this subchapter.
  (B) The premium amounts shall be determined on the basis of 
sound actuarial principles and shall include an amount 
necessary to cover the administrative costs to the insurer or 
insurers providing such insurance.
  (C) Each premium rate for the first policy year shall be 
continued for subsequent policy years, except that the rate may 
be adjusted for any such subsequent policy year on the basis of 
the experience under the policy, as determined by the Secretary 
in advance of that policy year.
  (h) Any overpayment of a premium for insurance coverage for 
an insurable dependent of a member that is terminated under 
section 1968(a)(5) of this title shall be refunded to the 
member.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 1970. Beneficiaries; payment of insurance

  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (i) Any amount of insurance in force on an insurable 
dependent of a member under this subchapter on the date of the 
dependent's death shall be paid, upon the establishment of a 
valid claim therefor, to the member or, in the event of the 
member's death before payment to the member can be made, then 
to the person or persons entitled to receive payment of the 
proceeds of insurance on the member's life under this 
subchapter.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 21--SPECIALLY ADAPTED HOUSING FOR DISABLED VETERANS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 2102. Limitations on assistance furnished

  (a) The assistance authorized by section 2101(a) of this 
title shall be limited in the case of any veteran to one 
housing unit, and necessary land therefor, and shall be 
afforded under one of the following plans, at the option of the 
veteran but shall not exceed [$43,000] $48,000 in any one 
case--
          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (b) Except as provided in section 2104(b) of this title, the 
assistance authorized by section 2101(b) of this title shall be 
limited to the lesser of--
          (1) the actual cost, or, in the case of a veteran 
        acquiring a residence already adapted with special 
        features, the fair market value, of the adaptations 
        determined by the Secretary under such section 2101(b) 
        to be reasonably necessary, or
          (2) [$8,250] $9,250.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 23--BURIAL BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 2302. Funeral expenses

  (a) In the case of a deceased veteran--
          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

the Secretary, in the Secretary's discretion, having due regard 
to the circumstances in each case, may pay a sum not exceeding 
[$300] $500 (as increased from time to time under section 5312 
of this title) to such person as the Secretary prescribes to 
cover the burial and funeral expenses of the deceased veteran 
and the expense of preparing the body and transporting it to 
the place of burial. For the purpose of this subsection, the 
term ``veteran'' includes a person who died during a period 
deemed to be active military, naval, or air service under 
section 106(c) of this title.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 2303. Death in Department facility; plot allowance

  (a)(1) When a veteran dies in a facility described in 
paragraph (2), the Secretary shall--
          (A) pay the actual cost (not to exceed [$300] $500 
        (as increased from time to time under section 5312 of 
        this title)) of the burial and funeral or, within such 
        limits, may make contracts for such services without 
        regard to the laws requiring advertisement for 
        proposals for supplies and services for the Department; 
        and

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (b) In addition to the benefits provided for under section 
2302 of this title and subsection (a) of this section, in the 
case of a veteran who is eligible for 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 who is not buried in a national cemetery 
or other cemetery under the jurisdiction of the United States--
          (1) if such veteran is buried (without charge for the 
        cost of a plot or interment) in a cemetery, or a 
        section of a cemetery, that (A) is used solely for the 
        interment of persons who are (i) eligible for burial in 
        a national cemetery, and (ii) members of a reserve 
        component of the Armed Forces not otherwise eligible 
        for such burial or former members of such a reserve 
        component not otherwise eligible for such burial who 
        are discharged or released from service under 
        conditions other than dishonorable, and (B) is owned by 
        a State or by an agency or political subdivision of a 
        State, the Secretary shall pay to such State, agency, 
        or political subdivision the sum of [$150] $300 (as 
        increased from time to time under section 5312 of this 
        title) as a plot or interment allowance for such 
        veteran; and
          (2) if such veteran (other than a veteran whose 
        eligibility for benefits under this subsection is based 
        on being a veteran of any war) is buried in a cemetery, 
        or a section of a cemetery, other than as described in 
        clause (1) of this subsection, the Secretary shall pay 
        a sum not exceeding [$150] $300 (as increased from time 
        to time under section 5312 of this title) as a plot or 
        interment allowance to such person as the Secretary 
        prescribes, except that if any part of the plot or 
        interment costs of a burial to which this clause 
        applies has been paid or assumed by a State, an agency 
        or political subdivision of a State, or a former 
        employer of the deceased veteran, no claim for such 
        allowance shall be allowed for more than the difference 
        between the entire amount of the expenses incurred and 
        the amount paid or assumed by any or all of the 
        foregoing entities.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 2307. Death from service-connected disability

  In any case in which a veteran dies as the result of a 
service-connected disability or disabilities, the Secretary, 
upon the request of the survivors of such veteran, shall pay 
the burial and funeral expenses incurred in connection with the 
death of the veteran in an amount not exceeding the greater of 
(1) [$1,500] $2,000 (as increased from time to time under 
section 5312 of this title), or (2) the amount authorized to be 
paid under section 8134(a) of title 5 in the case of a Federal 
employee whose death occurs as the result of an injury 
sustained in the performance of duty. Funeral and burial 
benefits provided under this section shall be in lieu of any 
benefits authorized under sections 2302 and 2303(a)(1) and (b) 
of this title.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


PART III--READJUSTMENT AND RELATED BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 30--ALL-VOLUNTEER FORCE EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


              SUBCHAPTER II--BASIC EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE

Sec. 3011. Basic educational assistance entitlement for service on 
                    active duty

  (a) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, 
each individual--
          (1) who--
                  (A) after June 30, 1985, first becomes a 
                member of the Armed Forces or first enters on 
                active duty as a member of the Armed Forces 
                and--
                          [(i) who serves an obligated period 
                        of active duty of at least two years of 
                        continuous active duty in the Armed 
                        Forces; or]
                          (i) who (I) in the case of an 
                        individual whose obligated period of 
                        active duty is three years or more, 
                        serves at least three years of 
                        continuous active duty in the Armed 
                        Forces, or (II) in the case of an 
                        individual whose obligated period of 
                        active duty is less than three years, 
                        serves at least two years of continuous 
                        active duty in the Armed Forces; or

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (c)(1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (3) An individual who after December 31, 1976, receives a 
commission as an officer in the Armed Forces upon completion of 
a program of educational assistance under section 2107 of title 
10 is not eligible for educational assistance under this 
section if the individual enters on active duty--
          (A) before October 1, 1996; or
          (B) after September 30, 1996, and while participating 
        in such program received more than [$2,000] $3,400 for 
        each year of such participation.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (e)(1) Any individual eligible for educational assistance 
under this section who does not make an election under 
subsection (c)(1) may contribute amounts for purposes of 
receiving an increased amount of basic educational assistance 
as provided for under section 3015(g) of this title. Such 
contributions shall be in addition to any reductions in the 
basic pay of such individual under subsection (b).
  (2) An individual covered by paragraph (1) may make the 
contributions authorized by that paragraph at any time while on 
active duty, but not more frequently than monthly.
  (3) The total amount of the contributions made by an 
individual under paragraph (1) may not exceed $600. Such 
contributions shall be made in multiples of [$4] $20.
  (4) Contributions under this subsection shall be made to the 
[Secretary. The]  Secretary of the military department 
concerned. That Secretary shall deposit any amounts received 
[by the Secretary] as contributions under this subsection into 
the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3012. Basic educational assistance entitlement for service in the 
                    Selected Reserve

  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (d)(1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (3) An individual who after December 31, 1976, receives a 
commission as an officer in the Armed Forces upon completion of 
a program of educational assistance under section 2107 of title 
10 is not eligible for educational assistance under this 
section if the individual enters on active duty--
          (A) before October 1, 1996; or
          (B) after September 30, 1996, and while participating 
        in such program received more than [$2,000] $3,400 for 
        each year of such participation.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (f)(1) * * *
  (2) An individual covered by paragraph (1) may make the 
contributions authorized by that paragraph at any time while on 
active duty, but not more frequently than monthly.
  (3) The total amount of the contributions made by an 
individual under paragraph (1) may not exceed $600. Such 
contributions shall be made in multiples of [$4] $20.
  (4) Contributions under this subsection shall be made to the 
[Secretary. The] Secretary of the military department 
concerned. That Secretary shall deposit any amounts received 
[by the Secretary] as contributions under this subsection into 
the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3014. Payment of basic educational assistance

  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (b)(1) * * *
  (2)(A) The amount of the basic educational assistance 
allowance payable to an individual under this subsection for a 
month shall be the amount of the basic educational assistance 
allowance to which the individual would be entitled for the 
month under section 3015 of this title [(without regard to 
subsection (g) of that section) were payment made under that 
section instead of under this subsection].

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (C) The number of months of entitlement charged under this 
chapter in the case of an individual who has been paid a basic 
educational assistance allowance under this subsection shall be 
equal to the number (including any fraction) determined by 
dividing the total amount of such educational assistance 
allowance paid the individual by the full-time monthly 
institutional rate of educational assistance which such 
individual would otherwise be paid under subsection (a)(1), 
(b)(1), (c)(1), or (e)(1) of section 3015 of this title, as the 
case may be.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3015. Amount of basic educational assistance

  (a) The amount of payment of educational assistance under 
this chapter is subject to section 3032 of this title. Except 
as otherwise provided in this section, in the case of an 
individual entitled to an educational assistance allowance 
under this chapter whose obligated period of active duty on 
which such entitlement is based is three years, a basic 
educational assistance allowance under this subchapter shall be 
paid--
          (1) at the monthly rate of $650 (as increased from 
        time to time under subsection (g)) for an approved 
        program of education pursued on a full-time basis; or

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (b) In the case of an individual entitled to an educational 
assistance allowance under section 3011 or 3018 of this title 
whose obligated period of active duty on which such entitlement 
is based is two years, a basic educational assistance allowance 
under this chapter shall (except as provided in the succeeding 
subsections of this section) be paid--
          (1) at the monthly rate of $528 (as increased from 
        time to time under subsection (g)) for an approved 
        program of education pursued on a full-time basis; or

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  [(g) In the case of an individual who has been paid a basic 
educational assistance allowance under section 3014(b) of this 
title, the rate of the basic educational assistance allowance 
applicable to the individual under this section shall be the 
rate otherwise applicable to the individual under this section 
reduced by an amount equal to--
          [(1) the aggregate amount of such allowances paid the 
        individual under such section 3014(b); divided by
          [(2) 36.]
  [(h)] (g) With respect to any fiscal year, the Secretary 
shall provide a percentage increase (rounded to the nearest 
dollar) in the rates payable under subsections (a)(1) and 
(b)(1) equal to the percentage by which--
          (1) the Consumer Price Index (all items, United 
        States city average) for the 12-month period ending on 
        the June 30 preceding the beginning of the fiscal year 
        for which the increase is made, exceeds
          (2) such Consumer Price Index for the 12-month period 
        preceeding the 12-month period described in paragraph 
        (1).

        [Subsections (g) and (h) below take effect May 1, 2001.]

  (g) In the case of an individual who has made contributions 
authorized by section 3011(e) or 3012(f) of this title, 
effective as of the first day of the enrollment period 
following receipt of such contribution by the Secretary 
concerned, the monthly amount of basic educational assistance 
allowance applicable to such individual under subsection (a), 
(b), or (c) shall be the monthly rate otherwise provided for 
under the applicable subsection increased by--
          (1) an amount equal to [$1] $5 for each [$4] $20 
        contributed by such individual under section 3011(e) or 
        3012(f) of this title, as the case may be, for an 
        approved program of education pursued on a full-time 
        basis; or
          (2) an appropriately reduced amount based on the 
        amount so contributed, as determined under regulations 
        which the Secretary shall prescribe, for an approved 
        program of education pursued on less than a full-time 
        basis.
  [(g)] (h) With respect to any fiscal year, the Secretary 
shall provide a percentage increase (rounded to the nearest 
dollar) in the rates payable under subsections (a)(1) and 
(b)(1) equal to the percentage by which--
          (1) the Consumer Price Index (all items, United 
        States city average) for the 12-month period ending on 
        the June 30 preceding the beginning of the fiscal year 
        for which the increase is made, exceeds
          (2) such Consumer Price Index for the 12-month period 
        preceeding the 12-month period described in paragraph 
        (1).

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3017. Death benefit

  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (b) The amount of any payment made under this section shall 
be equal to--
          [(1) the amount reduced from the individual's pay 
        under section 3011(b), 3012(c), or 3018(c) of this 
        title, less]
          (1) the sum of (A) the total amount reduced from the 
        individual's basic pay under section 3011(b), 3012(c), 
        or 3018(c) of this title, and (B) the total amount of 
        any contributions made by the individual under section 
        3011(e) or 3012(f) of this title, less

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SUBCHAPTER IV--TIME LIMITATION FOR USE OF ELIGIBILITY AND ENTITLEMENT; 
GENERAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3032. Limitations on educational assistance for certain 
                    individuals

  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (b) The amount of the educational assistance allowance 
payable to an individual described in subsection (a) of this 
section is the lesser of (1) the amount of the educational 
assistance allowance otherwise payable to such individual under 
this chapter, or (2) the established charges for tuition and 
fees that the educational institution involved requires 
similarly circumstanced nonveterans enrolled in the same 
program to pay, or (3) the amount of the charges of the 
educational institution elected by the individual under section 
3014(b)(1) of this title.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 34--VETERANS' EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SUBCHAPTER I--PURPOSE; DEFINITIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3452. Definitions

  For the purposes of this chapter and chapter 36 of this 
title--
  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (c) The term ``educational institution'' means any public or 
private elementary school, secondary school, vocational school, 
correspondence school, business school, junior college, 
teachers' college, college, normal school, professional school, 
university, or scientific or technical institution, or other 
institution furnishing education for adults. For the period 
ending on September 30, 1996, such term includes any entity 
that provides training required for completion of any State-
approved alternative teacher certification program (as 
determined by the Secretary). Such term also includes any 
private entity (that meets such requirements as the Secretary 
may establish) that offers, either directly or under an 
agreement with another entity (that meets such requirements), a 
course or courses to fulfill requirements for the attainment of 
a license or certificate generally recognized as necessary to 
obtain, maintain, or advance in employment in a profession or 
vocation in a technological occupation (as determined by the 
Secretary).

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SUBCHAPTER IV--PAYMENTS TO ELIGIBLE VETERANS; VETERAN-STUDENT SERVICES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3485. Work-study allowance

  (a)(1) Individuals utilized under the authority of subsection 
(b) of this section shall be paid an additional educational 
assistance allowance (hereafter referred to as ``work-study 
allowance''). Such work-study allowance shall be paid in an 
amount equal to the applicable hourly minimum wage times the 
number of hours worked during the applicable period, in return 
for such individual's agreement to perform services, during or 
between periods of enrollment, aggregating not more than a 
number of hours equal to 25 times the number of weeks in the 
semester or other applicable enrollment period, required in 
connection with (A) the outreach services program under 
subchapter II of chapter 77 of this title as carried out under 
the supervision of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee or 
outreach services to servicemembers and veterans furnished by 
employees of State approving agencies, (B) the preparation and 
processing of necessary papers and other documents at 
educational institutions or regional offices or facilities of 
the Department of Veterans Affairs, (C) the provision of 
hospital and domiciliary care and medical treatment under 
chapter 17 of this title, including the provision of such care 
to veterans in a State home for which payment is made under 
section 1741 of this title, (D) any other activity of the 
Department of Veterans Affairs as the Secretary shall determine 
appropriate, [or] (E) in the case of an individual who is 
receiving educational assistance under chapter 106 of title 10, 
activities relating to the administration of such chapter at 
Department of Defense, Coast Guard, or National Guard 
facilities. An individual may elect, in a manner prescribed by 
the Secretary, to be paid in advance an amount equal to 40 
percent of the total amount of the work-study allowance agreed 
to be paid under the agreement in return for the individual's 
agreement to perform the number of hours of work specified in 
the agreement (but not more than an amount equal to 50 times 
the applicable hourly minimum wage), or (F) in the case of an 
individual who has declared a major academic discipline, 
activities within the department of that academic discipline 
approved by the Secretary that complement and reinforce the 
program of education pursued by that individual.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 35--SURVIVORS' AND DEPENDENTS' EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                       SUBCHAPTER I--DEFINITIONS

Sec. 3501. Definitions

  (a) For the purposes of this chapter and chapter 36 of this 
title--
          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          (6) The term ``educational institution'' means any 
        public or private secondary school, vocational school, 
        correspondence school, business school, junior college, 
        teachers' college, college, normal school, professional 
        school, university, or scientific or technical 
        institution, or any other institution if it furnishes 
        education at the secondary school level or above. Such 
        term also includes any private entity (that meets such 
        requirements as the Secretary may establish) that 
        offers, either directly or under an agreement with 
        another entity (that meets such requirements), a course 
        or courses to fulfill requirements for the attainment 
        of a license or certificate generally recognized as 
        necessary to obtain, maintain, or advance in employment 
        in a profession or vocation in a technological 
        occupation (as determined by the Secretary).

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SUBCHAPTER II--ELIGIBILITY AND ENTITLEMENT

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3512. Periods of eligibility

  (a) The educational assistance to which an eligible person 
(within the meaning of section 3501(a)(1)(A) of this title) is 
entitled under section 3511 of this title or subchapter V of 
this chapter may be afforded the person during the period 
beginning on the person's eighteenth birthday, or on the 
successful completion of the person's secondary schooling, 
whichever first occurs, and ending on the person's twenty-sixth 
birthday, except that--
          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          (3) if the Secretary first finds that the parent from 
        whom eligibility is derived has a service-connected 
        total disability permanent in nature, or if the death 
        of the parent from whom eligibility is derived occurs, 
        after the eligible person's eighteenth birthday but 
        before the person's twenty-sixth birthday, then (unless 
        paragraph (4) applies) such period shall end 8 years 
        after the date that is elected by that person to be the 
        beginning date of entitlement under section 3511 of 
        this title or subchapter V of this chapter if--
                  (A) the Secretary approves that beginning 
                date;
                  [(B) the eligible person makes that election 
                after the person's eighteenth birthday but 
                before the person's twenty-sixth birthday; and]
                  (B) the eligible person elects that beginning 
                date by not later than the end of the 60-day 
                period beginning on the date on which the 
                Secretary provides written notice to that 
                person of that person's opportunity to make 
                such election, such notice including a 
                statement of the deadline for the election 
                imposed under this subparagraph; and
                  (C) that beginning date--
                          (i) in the case of a person whose 
                        eligibility is based on a parent who 
                        has a service-connected total 
                        disability permanent in nature, is 
                        [between the dates described in] the 
                        date determined pursuant to subsection 
                        (d); and

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          (5) if the person becomes eligible by reason of the 
        provisions of section 3501(a)(1)(A)(iii) of this title 
        after the person's eighteenth birthday but before the 
        person's twenty-sixth birthday, then (unless [clause 
        (4) of this subsection] paragraph (4) applies) such 
        period shall end eight years after the date on which 
        the person becomes eligible by reason of such 
        provisions, but in no event shall such period be 
        extended beyond the person's thirty-first birthday by 
        reason of this clause;

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (b)(1) * * *
  (2) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1) of this 
subsection, in the case of any eligible person (as defined in 
section 3501(a)(1)(B), (C), or (D) of this title) who was 
prevented from initiating or completing such person's chosen 
program of education within such period because of a physical 
or mental disability which was not the result of such person's 
own [willfull] willful misconduct, such person shall, upon 
application made within one year after (A) the last date of the 
delimiting period otherwise applicable under this section, (B) 
the termination of the period of mental or physical disability, 
or (C) October 1, 1980, whichever is the latest, be granted an 
extension of the applicable delimiting period for such length 
of time as the Secretary determines, from the evidence, that 
such person was so prevented from initiating or completing such 
program of education. When an extension of the applicable 
delimiting period is granted under the exception in the 
preceding sentence, the delimiting period will again begin 
running on the first day following such eligible person's 
recovery from such disability on which it is reasonably 
feasible, as determined in accordance with regulations which 
the Secretary shall prescribe, for such eligible person to 
initiate or resume pursuit of a program of education with 
educational assistance under this chapter.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


               SUBCHAPTER V--SPECIAL RESTORATIVE TRAINING

Sec. 3540. Purpose

  The purpose of special restorative training is to overcome, 
or lessen, the effects of a manifest physical or mental 
disability which would handicap an eligible person (as defined 
in [section 3501(a)(1)(A) of this title] subparagraphs (A), 
(B), and (D) of section 3501(a)(1) of this title) in the 
pursuit of a program of education.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3541. Entitlement to special restorative training

  (a) The Secretary at the request [of the parent or guardian] 
of an eligible person is authorized--
          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3542. Special training allowance

  (a) While the eligible person is enrolled in and pursuing a 
full-time course of special restorative training, [the parent 
or guardian shall be entitled to receive on behalf of such 
person] the eligible person shall be entitled to receive a 
special training allowance computed at the basic rate of $588 
per month. If the charges for tuition and fees applicable to 
any such course are more than $184 per calendar month, the 
basic monthly allowance may be increased by the amount that 
such charges exceed $184 a month, [upon election by the parent 
or guardian of the eligible person] upon election by the 
eligible person to have such person's period of entitlement 
reduced by one day for each such increased amount of allowance 
that is equal to one-thirtieth of the full-time basic monthly 
rate of special training allowance.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3543. Special administrative provisions

  (a) In carrying out the Secretary's responsibilities under 
this chapter the Secretary may by agreement arrange with public 
or private educational institutions or others to provide 
training arrangements as may be suitable and necessary to 
accomplish the purposes of this subchapter. In any instance 
where the Secretary finds that a customary tuition charge is 
not applicable, the Secretary may agree on the fair and 
reasonable amounts which may be charged [the parent or guardian 
for the training provided to an eligible person] for the 
training provided to the eligible person.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (c) In a case in which the Secretary determines requires a 
parent or guardian to make a request under section 3541(a) of 
this title on behalf of an eligible person, the parent or 
guardian shall be entitled--
          (1) to receive on behalf of the eligible person the 
        special training allowance provided for under section 
        3542(a) of this title;
          (2) to elect an increase in the basic monthly 
        allowance provided for under such section; and
          (3) to agree with the Secretary on the fair and 
        reasonable amounts which may be charged under 
        subsection (a).

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 36--ADMINISTRATION OF EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SUBCHAPTER I--STATE APPROVING AGENCIES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3672. Approval of courses

  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (d)(1) Pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Secretary in 
consultation with the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary and 
State approving agencies shall actively promote the development 
of programs of training on the job (including programs of 
apprenticeship) for the purposes of sections 3677 and 3687 of 
this title and shall utilize the services of disabled veterans' 
outreach program specialists under section 4103A of this title 
to promote the development of such programs.
  (2) In conjunction with outreach services furnished by the 
Secretary for education and training benefits under chapter 77 
of this title, each State approving agency shall conduct 
outreach programs and provide outreach services to eligible 
persons and veterans about education and training benefits 
available under applicable Federal and State law.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3680A. Disapproval of enrollment in certain courses

  (a) The Secretary shall not approve the enrollment of an 
eligible veteran in--
          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          (4) any independent study program except an 
        accredited independent study program (including open 
        circuit television) leading (A) to a standard college 
        degree, or (B) to a certificate that reflects 
        educational attainment offered by an institution of 
        higher learning.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


  CHAPTER 39--AUTOMOBILES AND ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT FOR CERTAIN DISABLED 
VETERANS AND MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 3902. Assistance for providing automobile and adaptive equipment

  (a) The Secretary, under regulations which the Secretary 
shall prescribe, shall provide or assist in providing an 
automobile or other conveyance to each eligible person by 
paying the total purchase price of the automobile or other 
conveyance (including all State, local, and other taxes) or 
[$8,000] $9,000, whichever is the lesser, to the seller from 
whom the eligible person is purchasing under a sales agreement 
between the seller and the eligible person.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


   CHAPTER 43--EMPLOYMENT AND REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS OF MEMBERS OF THE 
UNIFORMED SERVICES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SUBCHAPTER--I GENERAL

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 4303. Definitions

  For the purposes of this chapter--
          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          (13) The term ``service in the uniformed services'' 
        means the performance of duty on a voluntary or 
        involuntary basis in a uniformed service under 
        competent authority and includes active duty, active 
        duty for training, initial active duty for training, 
        inactive duty training, full-time National Guard duty, 
        a period for which a person is absent from a position 
        of employment for the purpose of an examination to 
        determine the fitness of the person to perform any such 
        duty, and a period for which a person is absent from 
        employment for the purpose of performing funeral honors 
        duty as authorized by section 12503 of title 10 or 
        section 115 of title 32.[.]

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 53--SPECIAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 5312. Annual adjustment of certain benefit rates

  (a) Whenever there is an increase in benefit amounts payable 
under title II of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 401 et 
seq.) as a result of a determination made under section 215(i) 
of such Act (42 U.S.C. 415(i)), the Secretary shall, effective 
on the date of such increase in benefit amounts, increase each 
maximum annual rate of pension under sections 1521, 1541, and 
1542 of this title, the rate of increased pension paid under 
such sections 1521 and 1541 on account of children, [and] each 
rate of monthly allowance paid under section 1805 of this 
title, and each rate of allowance paid under sections 2302, 
2303, and 2307 of this title, as such rates were in effect 
immediately prior to the date of such increase in benefit 
amounts payable under title II of the Social Security Act, by 
the same percentage as the percentage by which such benefit 
amounts are increased.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


PART V--BOARDS, ADMINISTRATIONS, AND SERVICES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


              CHAPTER 77--VETERANS BENEFITS ADMINISTRATION

                   subchapter i--organization; general

Sec.
7701.    Organization of the Administration.
     * * * * * * *

            subchapter ii--veterans outreach services program

     * * * * * * *
7727.    Outreach for eligible dependents.

           SUBCHAPTER II--VETERANS OUTREACH SERVICES PROGRAM

Sec. 7721. Purpose; definitions

  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (b) For the purposes of this subchapter--
          (1) the term ``other governmental programs'' includes 
        all programs under State or local laws as well as all 
        programs under Federal law other than those authorized 
        by this title; and
          [(2) the term ``eligible dependent'' means an 
        ``eligible person'' as defined in section 3501(a)(1) of 
        this title.]
          (2) the term ``eligible dependent'' means a spouse, 
        surviving spouse, child, or dependent parent of a 
        person who served in the active military, naval, or air 
        service.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 7722. Outreach services

  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (c)(1) The Secretary shall distribute full information to 
eligible veterans and eligible dependents regarding all 
benefits and services to which they may be entitled under laws 
administered by the Department and may, to the extent feasible, 
distribute information on other governmental programs 
(including manpower and training programs) which the Secretary 
determines would be beneficial to veterans.
  (2) Whenever a veteran or dependent first applies for any 
benefit under laws administered by the Secretary (including a 
request for burial or related benefits or an application for 
life insurance proceeds), the Secretary shall provide to the 
veteran or dependent information concerning benefits and health 
care services under programs administered by the Secretary.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 7723. Veterans assistance offices

  (a) The Secretary shall establish and maintain veterans 
assistance offices at such places throughout the United States 
and its territories and possessions, and in the Commonwealth of 
Puerto Rico, as the Secretary determines to be necessary to 
carry out the purposes of this subchapter. The Secretary may 
maintain such offices on such military installations located 
elsewhere as the Secretary, after consultation with the 
Secretary of Defense, determines to be necessary to carry out 
such purposes. In establishing and maintaining such offices, 
the Secretary shall give due regard to--
          (1) the geographical distribution of veterans 
        recently discharged or released from active military, 
        naval, or air service;
          (2) the special needs of educationally disadvantaged 
        veterans (including their need for accessibility of 
        outreach services); and
          (3) the necessity of providing appropriate outreach 
        services in less populated areas.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 7727. Outreach for eligible dependents

  (a) In carrying out this subchapter, the Secretary shall 
ensure that the needs of eligible dependents are fully 
addressed.
  (b) The Secretary shall ensure that the availability of 
outreach services and assistance for eligible dependents under 
this subchapter is made known through a variety of means, 
including the Internet, announcements in veterans publications, 
and announcements to the media.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

                              ----------                              


               CHAPTER 58 OF TITLE 10, UNITED STATES CODE

   CHAPTER 58--BENEFITS AND SERVICES FOR MEMBERS BEING SEPARATED OR 
RECENTLY SEPARATED

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 1142. Preseparation counseling; transmittal of medical records to 
                    Department of Veterans Affairs

  (a) Requirement.--(1) [As soon as possible before, but in no 
event later than 90 days before, the date of the discharge or 
release from active duty of a member of the armed forces, the 
Secretary concerned shall provide for individual preseparation 
counseling of the member.] Within the time periods specified in 
paragraph (3), the Secretary concerned shall (except as 
provided in paragraph (4)) provide for individual preseparation 
counseling of each member of the armed forces whose discharge 
or release from active duty is anticipated as of a specific 
date. A notation of the provision of such counseling with 
respect to each matter specified in subsection (b), signed by 
the member, shall be placed in the service record of each 
member receiving such counseling.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (3)(A) In the case of an anticipated retirement, 
preseparation counseling shall commence as soon as possible 
during the 24-month period preceding the anticipated retirement 
date. In the case of a separation other than a retirement, 
preseparation counseling shall commence as soon as possible 
during the 12-month period preceding the anticipated date. 
Except as provided in subparagraph (B), in no event shall 
preseparation counseling commence later than 90 days before the 
date of discharge or release.
  (B) In the event that a retirement or other separation is 
unanticipated until there are 90 or fewer days before the 
anticipated retirement or separation date, preseparation 
counseling shall begin as soon as possible within the remaining 
period of service.
  (4)(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), the Secretary concerned 
shall not provide preseparation counseling to a member who is 
being discharged or released before the completion of that 
member's first 180 days of active duty.
  (B) Subparagraph (A) shall not apply in the case of a member 
who is being retired or separated for disability.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 1144. Employment assistance, job training assistance, and other 
                    transitional services: Department of Labor

  (a) In General.--(1) The Secretary of Labor, in conjunction 
with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Transportation, 
and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, shall establish and 
maintain a program to furnish 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 under 
the jurisdiction of the Secretary concerned who are being 
separated from active duty and the spouses of such members. 
Such services shall be provided to a member [during the 180-day 
period before the member is separated from active duty.] within 
the time periods provided under paragraph (3) of section 
1142(a) of this title, except that the Secretary concerned 
shall not provide preseparation counseling to a member 
described in paragraph (4)(A) of such section.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

                              ----------                              


       VETERANS BENEFITS AND HEALTH CARE IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2000

               TITLE I--EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROVISIONS

Subtitle A--Montgomery GI Bill Educational Assistance

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SEC. 111. INCREASE IN RATES OF SURVIVORS' AND DEPENDENTS' EDUCATIONAL 
                    ASSISTANCE.

  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (f) Annual Adjustments to Amounts of Assistance.--
          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          (3) Effective date.--Sections [3654] 3564 and 3687(d) 
        of title 38, United States Code, as added by this 
        subsection, shall take effect on October 1, 2001.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


 TITLE III--COMPENSATION, INSURANCE, HOUSING, EMPLOYMENT, AND MEMORIAL 
AFFAIRS PROVISIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Subtitle C--Housing and Employment Programs

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SEC. 323. EMPLOYERS REQUIRED TO GRANT LEAVE OF ABSENCE FOR EMPLOYEES TO 
                    PARTICIPATE IN HONOR GUARDS FOR FUNERALS OF 
                    VETERANS.

  (a) Definition of Service in the Uniformed Services.--Section 
4303(13) is amended--
          (1) by striking ``and'' after ``National Guard 
        duty,''; and

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                        TITLE IV--OTHER MATTERS

SEC. 401. BENEFITS FOR THE CHILDREN OF WOMEN VIETNAM VETERANS WHO 
                    SUFFER FROM CERTAIN BIRTH DEFECTS.

  (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  (e) Conforming Amendments.--(1) Section 1802 is amended by 
striking ``[this] This chapter'' and inserting ``[this] This 
subchapter''.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SEC. 402. EXTENSION OF CERTAIN EXPIRING AUTHORITIES.

  (a) * * *
  (b) Home Loan Fees.--Section 3729 is amended by striking 
everything after the section heading and inserting the 
following:
  ``(a) * * *
  ``(b) Determination of Fee.--(1) * * *
  ``(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 October 1,
 2008)........................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
  *          *          *          *          *          *           *
(J) Loan under section 3733(a)         2.25          2.25     2.25[''.]
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                            

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *
                              ----------                              


 SECTION 3 OF THE HOMELESS VETERANS COMPREHENSIVE SERVICE PROGRAMS ACT 
                                OF 1992

SEC. 3. GRANTS.

  (a) Authority To Make Grants.--(1) Subject to the 
availability of appropriations provided for under section 12, 
the Secretary of Veterans Affairs[, during,] shall make grants 
to assist eligible entities in establishing new programs to 
furnish outreach, rehabilitative services, vocational 
counseling and training, and transitional housing assistance to 
homeless veterans.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *