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110th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     110-644

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



 
                VETERANS BENEFITS AWARENESS ACT OF 2008

                                _______
                                

  May 15, 2008.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Filner, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 3681]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 3681) to amend title 38, United States Code, to 
authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to advertise in the 
national media to promote awareness of benefits under laws 
administered by the Secretary, having considered the same, 
report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that 
the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Amendment........................................................     2
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Discussion........................................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     4
Committee Votes..................................................     4
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     4
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     4
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures     5
Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits.............................     5
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................     5
Congressional Budget Office Estimate.............................     5
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     6
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     6
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     6
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     6
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     6
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............     6

                               Amendment

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

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Veterans Benefits Awareness Act of 
2008''.

SEC. 2. AUTHORITY OF SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TO ADVERTISE TO 
                    PROMOTE AWARENESS OF BENEFITS UNDER LAWS 
                    ADMINISTERED BY THE SECRETARY.

  (a) Authority to Advertise.--Subchapter II of chapter 5 of title 38, 
United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new 
section:

``Sec. 532. Authority to advertise in national media

  ``The Secretary may purchase advertising in national media outlets 
for the purpose of promoting awareness of benefits under laws 
administered by the Secretary, including promoting awareness of 
assistance provided by the Secretary, including assistance for programs 
to assist homeless veterans, to promote veteran-owned small businesses, 
and to provide opportunities for employment in the Department of 
Veterans Affairs and for education, training, compensation, pension, 
vocational rehabilitation, and healthcare benefits, and mental 
healthcare (including the prevention of suicide among veterans).''.
  (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 
531 the following:

``532. Authority to advertise in national media.''.

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 3681 was introduced on September 27, 2007, by 
Representative John Boozman of Arkansas, the Ranking Member of 
the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, and cosponsored by 
Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota, the 
Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. The 
legislation would authorize the Secretary of the Department of 
Veterans Affairs (VA) to purchase advertising in national media 
outlets to promote awareness of veterans' benefits.

                       Background and Discussion

    Advertising by the Department of Defense (DoD) has been 
shown to be an effective tool for outreach to the public and 
has increased the number of high-quality enlistments for the 
DoD, as demonstrated by a study prepared for the Secretary of 
Defense (James N. Dertouzos, Steven Garber, Is Military 
Advertising Effective?: An Estimation Methodology and 
Application to Recruiting in the 1980s and 90s) (Rand, 2003). 
Television advertising accounts for more than 50 percent of 
DoD-wide advertising expenditures. Extrapolating from the 
success that DoD has had with their use of television 
advertising, the VA should adopt a similar blueprint. H.R. 3681 
would assist in addressing the VA's public outreach deficiency 
to veterans and their families. Issues such as veteran 
homelessness, economic opportunities, and suicide have received 
much attention recently. The VA should seek to address these 
pressing issues with its media strategy.
    Prohibitions against using appropriated funds for 
``publicity or propaganda'' purposes have been in place since 
1951. It is a violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, 5 U.S.C. 
Sec. 1341, to expend appropriated funds for publicity or 
propaganda purposes. This prohibition was most recently applied 
to funds appropriated to the VA by Public Law 110-161, the 
Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008. Section 404 of title 
IV of Division I states:

          No part of any funds appropriated in this Act shall 
        be used by an agency of the executive branch, other 
        than for normal and recognized executive-legislative 
        relationships, for publicity or propaganda purposes, 
        and for the preparation, distribution or use of any 
        kit, pamphlet, booklet, publication, radio, television 
        or film presentation designed to support or defeat 
        legislation pending before Congress, except in 
        presentation to Congress itself.

    Although Executive Branch Departments and Agencies are 
prohibited from using appropriated funds to engage in 
``publicity or propaganda,'' there is no such prohibition 
against disseminating information about current benefits, 
policies and activities. Military recruiting advertising 
campaigns are a primary example of an acceptable use of 
appropriated funds. The Committee believes that advertising the 
availability of veterans' benefits and services by the VA would 
not violate the ``publicity or propaganda'' clause and would be 
an important tool for the Department to further its outreach 
goals regarding programs administered by the VA.
    The DoD uses advertising expenditures to highlight benefits 
such as education under the GI Bill to recruit servicemembers; 
therefore, the VA should use the power of the media to conduct 
outreach and educate veterans about the VA benefits they have 
earned through military service. Although the Committee 
believes that the VA already possesses the authority to 
undertake such advertising, H.R. 3681 provides clear and 
concise authority for the VA to purchase advertising to promote 
awareness of veterans' benefits.

                                Hearings

    On April 16, 2008, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity 
held a legislative hearing on a number of bills, including H.R. 
3889. The following witnesses testified: The Honorable Bob 
Filner of California; The Honorable Steve Buyer of Indiana; The 
Honorable Ciro D. Rodriguez of Texas; The Honorable Cliff 
Stearns of Florida; The Honorable John A. Yarmuth of Kentucky; 
The Honorable Robin Hayes of North Carolina; The Honorable 
Artur Davis of Alabama; The Honorable Patrick J. Murphy of 
Pennsylvania; Mr. Ronald F. Chamrin, Assistant Director, 
Economic Commission, The American Legion; Mr. Justin Brown, 
Legislative Associate, National Legislative Service, Veterans 
of Foreign Wars; Mr. Richard Daley, Associate Legislative 
Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America; Mr. Patrick M. 
Campbell, Legislative Director, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans 
of America; Col. Robert F. Norton, USA (Ret.), Deputy Director, 
Government Relations, Military Officers Association of America; 
The Honorable Charles S. Ciccolella, Assistant Secretary, 
Veterans' Employment and Training Service, U.S. Department of 
Labor; Mr. Thomas L. Bush, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of 
Defense for Reserve Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense; Mr. 
Curtis L. Gilroy, Director for Accession Policy, Office of the 
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, U.S. 
Department of Defense; and Mr. Keith Pedigo, Associate Deputy 
Under Secretary, Policy and Program Management, U.S. Department 
of Veterans Affairs, accompanied by Mr. John Brizzi, Staff 
Attorney, Office of General Counsel, U.S. Department of 
Veterans Affairs. Those submitting statements for the record 
included: Mr. Jot D. Carpenter Jr., Vice President, Government 
Affairs, CTIA--The Wireless Association; Mr. Kerry Baker, 
Associate National Legislative Director, Disabled American 
Veterans; and, Mr. Kyle McSlarrow, President and Chief 
Executive Officer, National Cable and Telecommunications 
Association.

                        Committee Consideration

    On April 23, 2008, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity 
met in open markup session and ordered favorably forwarded to 
the full Committee H.R. 3681, without amendment, by voice vote.
    On April 30, 2008, the full Committee met in open markup 
session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 3681, as 
amended, favorably reported to the House of Representatives, by 
voice vote. During consideration of the bill the following 
amendments were considered:
    A perfecting amendment by Mr. Buyer of Indiana to the 
amendment offered by Mr. Walz of Minnesota to include a non-
exhaustive list of veterans benefits and assistance offered by 
the VA that the VA may advertise, including homeless veterans 
programs, promotion of veteran-owned small businesses, 
opportunities for employment in the VA, opportunities for 
education, training, compensation, pension, vocational 
rehabilitation, healthcare benefits, and suicide prevention 
among the veteran population, was agreed to by voice vote.
    An amendment by Mr. Walz of Minnesota to include 
``promoting awareness of assistance provided by the Secretary 
to prevent suicide among veterans,'' was agreed to by voice 
vote after the Committee agreed to the perfecting amendment 
offered by Mr. Buyer of Indiana.

                            Committee Votes

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires the Committee to list the record votes 
on the motion to report the legislation and amendments thereto. 
There were no record votes taken on amendments or in connection 
with ordering H.R. 3681 reported to the House. A motion by Mr. 
Buyer of Indiana to order H.R. 3681, as amended, reported 
favorably to the House of Representatives was agreed to by 
voice vote.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goals and objectives are reflected in the descriptive portions 
of this report.

   New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee adopts as its 
own the estimate of new budget authority, entitlement 
authority, or tax expenditures or revenues contained in the 
cost estimate prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

                  Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits

    H.R. 3681 does not contain any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9(d), 9(e), or 9(f) of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives.

                        Committee Cost Estimate

    The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate on H.R. 
3681 prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the following is the cost estimate 
for H.R. 3681 provided by the Congressional Budget Office 
pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, May 13, 2008.
Honorable Bob Filner,
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. 3681, the Veterans 
Benefits Awareness Act of 2007.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Dwayne M. 
Wright.
            Sincerely,
                                         Robert A. Sunshine
                                             (For Peter R. Orszag).
    Enclosure

H.R. 3681--Veterans Benefits Awareness Act of 2007

    H.R. 3681 would clarify that the Department of Veterans 
Affairs (VA) has the authority to advertise in the national 
media for the purposes of promoting awareness of VA programs to 
prevent suicide and provide other benefits.
    VA reports that it currently has authority to advertise in 
the national media but uses it rarely. Therefore, CBO estimates 
that implementing H.R. 3681 would have no effect on the federal 
budget.
    H.R. 3681 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Dwayne M. 
Wright. This estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 3681 prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 423 of the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

                      Advisory Committee Statement

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act would be created by H.R. 
3681.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that the 
Constitutional authority for H.R. 3681 is provided by Article 
I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United States.

                  Applicability to Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation


Section 1. Short title

    This section would provide the short title of H.R. 3681 as 
the ``Veterans Benefits Awareness Act of 2008.''

Section 2. Authority of Secretary of Veterans Affairs to advertise to 
        promote awareness of benefits under laws administered by the 
        Secretary

    This section would amend section 532 of title 38, United 
States Code to provide the Secretary of Veterans Affairs with 
the authority to advertise in national media outlets for the 
purpose of promoting awareness of benefits under laws 
administered by the Secretary.

         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 (new matter is 
printed in italic and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



PART I--GENERAL PROVISIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


            CHAPTER 5--AUTHORITY AND DUTIES OF THE SECRETARY


                    SUBCHAPTER I--GENERAL AUTHORITIES

Sec.
501.  Rules and regulations.
     * * * * * * *

                   SUBCHAPTER II--SPECIFIED FUNCTIONS

     * * * * * * *
532.  Authority to advertise in national media.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SUBCHAPTER II--SPECIFIED FUNCTIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 532. Authority to advertise in national media

  The Secretary may purchase advertising in national media 
outlets for the purpose of promoting awareness of benefits 
under laws administered by the Secretary, including promoting 
awareness of assistance provided by the Secretary, including 
assistance for programs to assist homeless veterans, to promote 
veteran-owned small businesses, and to provide opportunities 
for employment in the Department of Veterans Affairs and for 
education, training, compensation, pension, vocational 
rehabilitation, and healthcare benefits, and mental healthcare 
(including the prevention of suicide among veterans).

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *