Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?

113th Congress  }                                         {      Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session     }                                         {     113-620


                           THE UNITED STATES


 November 17, 2014.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed


   Mr. Goodlatte, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the 

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 5441]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 5441) to amend the Federal charter of the Veterans 
of Foreign Wars of the United States to reflect the service of 
women in the Armed Forces of the United States, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment 
and recommend that the bill do pass.


Purpose and Summary..............................................     1
Background and Need for the Legislation..........................     2
Hearings.........................................................     5
Committee Consideration..........................................     5
Committee Votes..................................................     5
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     5
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     5
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     5
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................     6
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings..............................     7
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     7
Advisory on Earmarks.............................................     7
Section-by-Section Analysis......................................     7
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     7

                          Purpose and Summary

    This bill amends the charter of the Veterans of Foreign 
Wars of the United States to be gender-neutral.


                Background and Need for the Legislation

                       WOMEN IN MILITARY SERVICE

    The Congressional Research Service reports that:

        Over the last few years, women have become more 
        involved in combat operations. Since September 2001 (to 
        February 28, 2013), 299,548 female service members have 
        been deployed for contingency operations in Iraq and 
        Afghanistan. In approximately 12 years of combat 
        operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 800 women have 
        been wounded and over 130 have died. According to the 
        Department of Defense (DOD), as of February 29, 2013, 
        16,407 female members were currently deployed in 
        contingency operation. Women have been recognized for 
        their heroism, two earning Silver Star medals.

        The expansion of roles for women in the armed forces 
        has evolved over decades. Women are not precluded from 
        serving in any military unit by law today. DOD policy 
        restricting women from serving in ground combat units 
        was most recently modified in 1994 and 2013. Under the 
        1994 policy, women could not be assigned to units, 
        below the brigade level, whose primary mission is to 
        engage in direct combat on the ground. Primarily, this 
        meant that women were barred from infantry, artillery, 
        armor, combat engineers, and special operations units 
        of battalion size or smaller. On January 24, 2013, 
        then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta rescinded the 
        rule that restricted women from serving in combat 
    \1\David Burrelli, Women in Combat: Issues for Congress, 2013 CRS 
Report for Congress.

    The American Forces Press Service reports that:

        Efforts continue for the services and U.S. Special 
        Operations Command to meet a Jan. 1, 2016, deadline by 
        which all military positions and occupations will be 
        open to women, a senior Pentagon official said. . . .

        Juliet Beyler, officer and enlisted personnel 
        management director in the office of the undersecretary 
        of defense for personnel and readiness, said interim 
        steps are in place to complete the full implementation 
        of the January 2013 rescission of the 1994 Direct 
        Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule.

        ``Anybody should be able to serve in any position, 
        based on their ability, based on their qualifications, 
        unless there's a valid reason to keep it closed,'' 
        Beyler said.

        The first step, Beyler said, is to review and validate 
        all military occupation standards, a process she said 
        will take time and has a completion deadline of 
        September 2015.

        By 2016, Beyler explained, service leaders will need to 
        inform the defense secretary and the chairman of the 
        Joint Chiefs of Staff of the decision either to open 
        all remaining closed positions to women or provide a 
        valid, detailed reason on why a position needs to 
        remain closed.

        ``The presumption is it will open unless they justify 
        otherwise,'' she added, ``and any exception to keep a 
        position closed come Jan. 1, 2016, has to be personally 
        approved by both the secretary and the chairman.''\2\
    \2\Amaani Lyle, Work Continues to Open Military Occupations to 
Women, American Forces Press Service, April 7, 2014. See also 
Memorandum by Martin Dempsey, Chairman, Joint of the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff and Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, to Secretaries of the 
Military Departments Acting under Secretary of Defense for Personnel 
and Readiness and Chiefs of the Military Services, Jan. 24, 2013.

                            FEDERAL CHARTERS

    A Federal charter is an Act of Congress passed for a 
private, non-profit organization. The reason for seeking one is 
to give an organization the honor of Federal recognition. These 
charters grant no new privileges or Federal legal rights to 
organizations. Currently, the Judiciary Committee has 
jurisdiction over about 90 Federal charters. On March 14, 2013, 
the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security adopted the 
policy of the Judiciary Committee subcommittee of jurisdiction 
since the 101st Congress of not granting new Federal charters. 
However, the policy provides that the subcommittee can continue 
to consider legislation to amend existing charters when 

                      THE VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS

    The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) has 
been a federally chartered organization since 1936.\3\ The 
purposes of the corporation are ``fraternal, patriotic, 
historical, charitable, and educational, and are--
    \3\See 36 U.S.C. sec. 230101.
    (1) to preserve and strengthen comradeship among its 
    (2) to assist worthy comrades;
    (3) to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead, and 
to assist their widows and orphans;
    (4) to maintain true allegiance to the Government of the 
United States, and fidelity to its Constitution and laws;
    (5) to foster true patriotism;
    (6) to maintain and extend the institutions of American 
freedom; and
    (7) to preserve and defend the United States from all 
    \4\36 U.S.C. sec. 230102.
    The VFW states that:

        The VFW traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of 
        the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine 
        Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to 
        secure rights and benefits for their service: Many 
        arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care 
        or veterans' pension for them, and they were left to 
        care for themselves.

        In their misery, some of these veterans banded together 
        and formed organizations with what would become known 
        as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. 
        After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and 
        Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum. By 
        1915, membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, membership was 
        almost 200,000.

        Since then, the VFW's voice had been instrumental in 
        establishing the Veterans Administration, creating a GI 
        bill for the 20th century, the development of the 
        national cemetery system and the fight for compensation 
        for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange and for 
        veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In 2008, VFW 
        won a long-fought victory with the passing of a GI Bill 
        for the 21st Century, giving expanded educational 
        benefits to America's active-duty service members, and 
        members of the Guard and Reserves, fighting in Iraq and 

        The VFW also has fought for improving VA medical 
        centers services for women veterans.

        Besides helping fund the creation of the Vietnam, 
        Korean War, World War II and Women in Military Service 
        memorials, the VFW in 2005 became the first veterans' 
        organization to contribute to building the new Disabled 
        Veterans for Life Memorial. . . .

        Annually, the nearly 1.9 million members of the VFW and 
        its Auxiliaries contribute more than 8.6 million hours 
        of volunteerism in the community, including 
        participation in Make A Difference Day and National 
        Volunteer Week.

        From providing over $3 million in college scholarships 
        and savings bonds to students every year, to 
        encouraging elevation of the Department of Veterans 
        Affairs to the president's cabinet, the VFW is 
    \5\See VFW website.

    Membership in the VFW is open to an individual:

        [O]nly if the individual served honorably as a member 
        of the Armed Forces of the United States------

            L(1) in a foreign war, insurrection, or expedition 
        in service that------

                L(A) has been recognized as campaign-medal 
        service; and

                L(B) is governed by the authorization of the 
        award of a campaign badge by the United States 

            L(2) on the Korean peninsula or in its territorial 
        waters for at least 30 consecutive days, or a total of 
        60 days, after June 30, 1949; or

            L(3) in an area which entitled the individual to 
        receive special pay for duty subject to hostile fire or 
        imminent danger under section 310 of title 37.\6\
    \6\36 U.S.C. sec. 230103.

    Membership does not require that a service member have 
engaged in actual combat, only that they served in a combat 
    The Executive Director of the VFW's Washington, D.C. office 
sent a letter to the Committee requesting that the Committee 
amend its Federal charter. The letter stated that:

        The [VFW] was formed in 1899 and was chartered by 
        Congress in 1936, at a time when military service was 
        limited to men. Today, our military consists of both 
        men and women who honorably put duty and service before 
        themselves. Consistent with the growing number of 
        military women who serve at all levels, women are 
        taking leadership roles throughout our organization.

        The VFW strongly believes that combat service, not 
        gender, determines VFW membership eligibility. That is 
        why we opened our membership to women over 35 years 
        ago. However, our Congressional Charter does not 
        reflect this reality.''\7\
    \7\Letter from Robert Wallace, Executive Director, VFW Washington 
Office, to Bob Goodlatte (September 29, 2014).

    H.R. 5441 makes the language of the VFW's charter gender-
neutral. The VFW is supportive of the bill.\8\
    \8\See id.


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

                        Committee Consideration

    On November 13, 2014, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered the bill H.R. 5441 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. 5441.

                      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 

               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. 5441, the following estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                 Washington, DC, November 14, 2014.
Hon. Bob Goodlatte, 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. 5441, a bill to 
amend the Federal charter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of 
the United States to reflect the service of women in the armed 
forces of the United States.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is William Ma, 
who can be reached at 226-2840.
                                      Douglas W. Elmendorf,



        Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
        Ranking Member

   H.R. 5441--A bill to amend the Federal charter of the Veterans of 
 Foreign Wars of the United States to reflect the service of women in 
                 the armed forces of the United States.

      As ordered reported by the House Committee on the Judiciary 
                         on November 13, 2014.

    H.R. 5441 would amend the Federal charter for the Veterans 
of Foreign Wars of the United States by replacing gender 
specific language with terms that are gender neutral. Those 
changes would confer no Federal benefits, nor would they impose 
requirements upon the Federal Government. Thus, CBO estimates 
that enacting H.R. 5441 would have no budgetary effect.
    Because H.R. 5441 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    H.R. 5441 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 
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is William Ma. The 
estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    Duplication of Federal Programs

    No provision of H.R. 5441 establishes or reauthorizes a 
program of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of 
another Federal program, a program that was included in any 
report from the Government Accountability Office to Congress 
pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program 
related to a program identified in the most recent Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance.

                  Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings

    The Committee estimates that H.R. 5441 specifically directs 
to be completed no specific rule makings within the meaning of 
5 U.S.C. 551.

                    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. 
5441 amends the charter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the 
United States to be gender-neutral.

                          Advisory on Earmarks

    In accordance with clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, H.R. 5441 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. Reflection of Service of Women in the Armed Forces 
in the Federal Charter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the 
United States. The VFW's charter provides that the VFW is a 
``national association of men who as soldiers, sailors, 
marines, and airmen served this Nation in wars, campaigns and 
expeditions on foreign soil or in hostile waters. . . .''\9\ 
Subsection (a) replaces ``men'' with ``veterans''. The charter 
provides that one of the purposes of the organization is ``to 
perpetuate the memory and history of our dead, and to assist 
their widows and orphans. . . .''\10\ Subsection (b) replaces 
``widows'' with ``surviving spouses.''
    \9\36 U.S.C. sec. 230101 (emphasis added).
    \10\36 U.S.C. sec. 230102 (emphasis added).

         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 italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

                      TITLE 36, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

Sec. 230101. Organization

    (a) Federal Charter.--Veterans of Foreign Wars of the 
United States (in this chapter, the ``corporation''), a 
national association of [men] veterans who as soldiers, 
sailors, marines, and airmen served this Nation in wars, 
campaigns, and expeditions on foreign soil or in hostile 
waters, is a federally chartered corporation.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

Sec. 230102. Purposes

    The purposes of the corporation are fraternal, patriotic, 
historical, charitable, and educational, and are--
            (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

            (3) to perpetuate the memory and history of our 
        dead, and to assist their [widows] surviving spouses 
        and orphans;

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *