H. Rept. 112-313 - 112th Congress (2011-2012)
December 05, 2011, As Reported by the Judiciary Committee

Report text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this legislative text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.




House Report 112-313 - TO AMEND TITLE 36, UNITED STATES CODE, TO PROVIDE FOR AN ADDITIONAL POWER FOR THE AMERICAN LEGION UNDER ITS FEDERAL CHARTER




[House Report 112-313]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


112th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    112-313

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

 
  TO AMEND TITLE 36, UNITED STATES CODE, TO PROVIDE FOR AN ADDITIONAL 
        POWER FOR THE AMERICAN LEGION UNDER ITS FEDERAL CHARTER

                                _______
                                

December 5, 2011.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Smith of Texas, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2369]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 2369) to amend title 36, United States Code, to 
provide for an additional power for the American Legion under 
its Federal charter, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that the 
bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     1
Background and Need for the Legislation..........................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
Committee Votes..................................................     3
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     3
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     4
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     4
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     5
Advisory on Earmarks.............................................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis......................................     5
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     5

                          Purpose and Summary

    The bill amends the Federal charter of the American Legion 
to clarify that the national organization does not control or 
otherwise influence the activities and conduct of the 
individual departments and posts.

                Background and Need for the Legislation

    The American Legion is a federally-chartered organization 
open to membership to persons who have served in the U.S. Armed 
Forces or those of a government associated with the U.S. during 
wartime (including the current war on terrorism beginning on 
August 2, 1990) who were honorably discharged or continues 
their service.\1\ The purposes of the American Legion are to 
uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution, promote worldwide 
peace and good will, preserve the memories and incidents of the 
two world wars and the other great hostilities fought to uphold 
democracy, cement the ties and comradeship born of service, and 
consecrate the efforts of its members to mutual helpfulness and 
service to the United States.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\See 36 U.S.C. secs. 21701, 21703.
    \2\See 36 U.S.C. sec. 21702.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The American Legion states that:

        The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by 
        Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization 
        devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the Nation's 
        largest veterans service organization, committed to 
        mentoring and sponsorship of youth programs in our 
        communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting 
        a strong national security, and continued devotion to 
        our fellow servicemembers and veterans.

        In contrast to other veterans organizations, the Legion 
        offers a number of local programs and activities to 
        strengthen its commitment to our Nation's grass roots 
        and the people we serve. American Legion Baseball is 
        one of the Nation's most successful amateur athletic 
        programs; it continues to educate youths on the 
        importance of sportsmanship and develops the quality of 
        our country's citizenship. The Heroes to Hometowns 
        program is the only nationwide reintegration assistance 
        service for wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. 
        Additionally, millions of dollars in donations have 
        been given to fellow veterans and their families in 
        times of grief, and various scholarship opportunities 
        ensure the future success of our youth.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\See American Legion website.

    The American Legion has 2.5 million members in over 14,000 
local posts.\4\ As the Supreme Court of Minnesota has stated:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\Id.

        Posts and departments [the State chapters] are 
        separately incorporated, as is National. National, each 
        department, and each post all have their own leaders 
        (commanders). . . . Additionally, National, the local 
        departments, and the posts all have their own 
        constitutions and by-laws. . . . The ``Officer's Guide 
        and Manual of Ceremonies,'' a guidebook distributed to 
        Legion officials by National, states that ``[t]he post 
        is a separate and distinct unit which can, and often 
        does, function independently.'' . . . The Officer's 
        Guide also sets out the very limited relationship 
        between the posts and national headquarters: 
        ``Practically all of your contacts with National 
        Headquarters are rightfully carried through your 
        department headquarters.'' . . . Neither National nor 
        the departments finance the local posts.\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\Urban v. the American Legion Department of Minnesota, 723 N.W. 
2d 1, 3-4 (Minn. 2006).

    The Director of the Legion's National Legislative 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commission, sent a letter to Rep. Altmire stating that:

        The American Legion wants to provide a new service that 
        will allow members to renew their membership and pay 
        their dues to the National Organization through the use 
        of a credit card over the Internet. . . . Currently 
        these dues payments flow to the national organization 
        from our posts through our departments. General Counsel 
        for the American Legion reviewed this new service and 
        has raised a concern that because dues monies would 
        flow from the National Organization to the Departments 
        and Posts that plaintiff's lawyers would raise as an 
        issue of whether the National Organization has 
        ``control'' over those Departments and Posts. General 
        Counsel's concern comes from some case law indicating 
        this appearance of ``control'' may raise an appearance 
        to support a claim of liability against the National 
        Organization when a legal dispute against a post 
        arises. . . . [T]o ensure this liability issue does not 
        prevail in a claim against the National Organization, 
        the American Legion seeks to resolve this ``control'' 
        problem by amending its Corporate Charter to confirm 
        statutorily the independence of our Departments and 
        Posts.\6\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\Letter from Tim Tetz to Rep. Jason Altmire (March 25, 2011).

    H.R. 2369 amends the Legion's Federal charter to provide 
that the national organization may ``provide guidance and 
leadership to the individual Departments and Posts, but may not 
control or otherwise influence the specific activities and 
conduct of the independent, autonomous Departments and Posts. . 
. .''

                                Hearings

    The Committee on the Judiciary held no hearings on H.R. 
2369.

                        Committee Consideration

    On November 3, 2011, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered the bill H.R. 2369 favorably reported without 
amendment, by voice vote, a quorum being present.

                            Committee Votes

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that there 
were no recorded votes during the Committee's consideration of 
H.R. 2369.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on 
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives is inapplicable because this legislation does 
not provide new budgetary authority or increased tax 
expenditures.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets forth, with 
respect to the bill, H.R. 2369, the following estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, December 2, 2011.
Hon. Lamar Smith, Chairman,
Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2369, a bill to 
amend title 36, United States Code, to provide for an 
additional power for the American Legion under its federal 
charter.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Dawn Regan, 
who can be reached at 226-2840.
            Sincerely,
                                      Douglas W. Elmendorf,
                                                  Director.

Enclosure

cc:
        Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
        Ranking Member
H.R. 2369--A bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to provide for 
        an additional power for the American Legion under its federal 
        charter.



As ordered reported by the House Committee on the Judiciary on 
                        November 3, 2011




    H.R. 2369 would amend title 36 of the U.S. Code to allow 
the American Legion to provide guidance to its State and local 
level departments and posts, but prohibit the national 
organization from influencing or controlling the activities and 
conduct of those independent departments and posts. Because 
chartered organizations listed in title 36 are not agencies of 
the U.S. government and are not conferred Federal benefits, CBO 
estimates that enacting the bill would have no impact on the 
Federal budget.
    Enacting H.R. 2369 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    H.R. 2369 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on State, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Dawn Regan. The 
estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    The Committee states that pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, H.R. 
2369 amends the Federal charter of the American Legion to 
clarify that the national organization does not control or 
otherwise influence the activities and conduct of the 
individual Departments and Posts.

                          Advisory on Earmarks

    In accordance with clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, H.R. 2369 does not contain any 
congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff 
benefits as defined in clause 9(e), 9(f), or 9(g) of Rule XXI.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

    The following discussion describes the bill as reported by 
the Committee.
    Sec. 1. Additional Power of American Legion Under Federal 
Charter.
    Section 1 amends 36 U.S.C. sec. 21704 (mistakenly cited as 
sec. 2104 in the bill as introduced) to add an additional power 
of the American Legion ``to provide guidance and leadership to 
the individual Departments and Posts, but may not control or 
otherwise influence the specific activities and conduct of the 
independent, autonomous Departments and Posts. . . .''

         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):

              SECTION 2104 OF TITLE 36, UNITED STATES CODE

Sec. 2104. Military cemeteries in foreign countries

  When, as a result of combat operations, the Armed Forces 
establish military cemeteries in zones of operations outside 
the United States and the territories and possessions of the 
United States, the American Battle Monuments Commission and the 
Secretary of the Army, immediately on the cessation of 
hostilities, shall decide which of the cemeteries will become 
permanent cemeteries or, if they decide it is desirable, shall 
select new sites for the cemeteries at any other location. The 
Commission is solely responsible for the design and 
construction of the permanent cemeteries, and of all buildings, 
plantings, headstones, and other permanent improvements 
incidental to the cemeteries, except that--
          (1) the Armed Forces are responsible for maintaining 
        the permanent cemeteries until the Commission declares 
        its readiness to assume the authorized administrative 
        duties and powers;
          (2) all construction undertaken by the Armed Forces 
        in establishing and maintaining the cemetery prior to 
        its transfer to the Commission shall be nonpermanent;
          (3) burials and reburials by the Armed Forces shall 
        be carried out in accordance with plans prepared by the 
        Commission; and
          (4) the Armed Forces have the right to re-enter a 
        cemetery transferred to the Commission to exhume or re-
        inter a body if they decide it is necessary.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *