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114th Congress    }                                    {        Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session       }                                    {       114-813

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



 
          PROTECTING VETERANS' EDUCATIONAL CHOICE ACT OF 2016

                                _______
                                

 November 14, 2016.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Miller of Florida, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 5047]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 5047) to direct the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs and the Secretary of Labor to provide information to 
veterans and members of the Armed Forces about articulation 
agreements between institutions of higher learning, and for 
other purposes, having considered the same, report favorably 
thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Subcommittee Consideration.......................................     4
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     4
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
Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs.....................     6
Disclosure of Directed Rulemaking................................     6
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     6
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............     7

                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    H.R. 5047, the ``Protecting Veterans' Educational Choice 
Act of 2016,'' was introduced by Representative Jody Hice of 
Georgia on April 25, 2016. H.R. 5047 would require that, when 
the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides educational 
counseling or a certificate of eligibility to veterans and 
servicemembers eligible for VA education benefits, it also 
provide information on articulation agreements at institutions 
of higher learning.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

Section 1. Short title

    Section 1 cites the short title of H.R. 5047, to be the 
``Protecting Veterans' Educational Choice Act of 2016.''

Section 2. Department of Veterans Affairs provision of information on 
        articulation agreements between institutions of higher learning

    Since the inception of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill in 2009, 
over 1.5 million beneficiaries have received benefits through 
this program, which subsidizes student veterans' and their 
eligible dependents' attendance at a variety of institutions of 
higher learning, whether it be public, private, for-profit 
schools, etc. The Committee has found that many student 
veterans do not use all of their benefits at just one school 
and transfer to another school or program at some point in 
their educational career. If they do transfer schools, their 
previously earned credits can play a large role in determining 
the length of time it may take for students to complete their 
program at their new school, and in some cases, not all earned 
credits may transfer over.
    The Committee believes that veterans or servicemembers 
planning to use their education benefits should have a full 
understanding of their school's credit transfer policies with 
other schools before attending such institution. To help 
students understand the transfer of credits, most schools have 
set up articulation agreements. These agreements outline a 
school or training program's policy for accepting students' 
credits earned from another institution, and they are used to 
specify the acceptability of certain courses towards meeting 
degree, certificate, or program requirements. Knowledge of the 
school's articulation agreements would empower student veterans 
to make the right choice about a school or program that 
appropriately provides them credit for previous coursework or 
training.
    The Committee is also concerned that too few veterans are 
taking advantage of the free educational and vocational 
counseling provided by VA through Chapter 36 of title 38, 
U.S.C. When testifying at a full Committee legislative hearing 
on H.R. 5047, Mr. Raymond C. Kelley, Director of the National 
Legislative Service of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the 
United States agreed and stated the following:

          There are reports suggesting some veterans are not 
        receiving a satisfactory education when using their 
        G.I. Bill benefits and other tuition assistance 
        programs. This is because student veterans are 
        bombarded with overwhelming amounts of educational 
        information with little or no training on how to make 
        an informed decision. We believe this issue stems from 
        veterans being unaware of free pre-enrollment 
        counseling services offered by VA.

    To address this issue and further inform veterans about the 
importance of articulation agreements, Section 2 of H.R. 5047 
would require VA, within 90 days of enactment, to provide 
information regarding vocational and educational counseling 
available under Chapter 36 of title 38, U.S.C., to student 
veterans. The Secretary would be required to provide this 
information in the veteran's certificate of eligibility for 
G.I. Bill benefits. Additionally, Section 2 would require that 
VA provide information about articulation agreements of any 
school or training program at the request of the veteran if 
they are interested in attending that school.
    The Committee believes the requirements in Section 2 would 
strengthen VA's existing regulations and practices, and would 
provide student veterans with additional necessary information 
to make an informed choice about which school or training 
program is best for them.

                                HEARINGS

    On June 23, 2016, the full Committee conducted a 
legislative hearing on various draft bills and bills introduced 
during the 114th Congress, including H.R. 5047. The following 
witnesses testified:
          The Honorable Doug Lamborn, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 5th District of Colorado; The 
        Honorable Dina Titus, U.S. House of Representatives, 
        1st District of Nevada, The Honorable Raul Ruiz, U.S. 
        House of Representatives, 36th District of California; 
        The Honorable Beto O'Rourke, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 16th District of Texas; The Honorable 
        Ron DeSantis, U.S. House of Representatives, 6th 
        District of Florida; The Honorable Ted Yoho, U.S. House 
        of Representatives, 3rd District of Florida; The 
        Honorable Jody Hice, U.S. House of Representatives, 
        10th District of Georgia; The Honorable Dan Newhouse, 
        U.S. House of Representatives, 4th District of 
        Washington; The Honorable David Young, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 3rd District of Iowa; The Honorable 
        Sloan Gibson, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of 
        Veterans Affairs who was accompanied by Ms. Laura 
        Eskenazi, Executive in Charge and Vice Chairman, Board 
        of Veterans Appeals, U.S. Department of Veterans 
        Affairs, Mr. David McLenachen, Deputy Under Secretary 
        for Disability Assistance, Veterans Benefits 
        Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 
        and Dr. Maureen McCarthy, Assistant Deputy Under 
        Secretary for Health Patient Care Services, Veterans 
        Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans 
        Affairs; Mr. Raymond Kelley, Director of the National 
        Legislative Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the 
        United States; Mr. Paul Varela, Assistant National 
        Legislative Director, Disabled American Veterans; Mr. 
        Carl Blake, Associate Executive Director of Government 
        Relations, Paralyzed Veterans of America; Mr. Louis J. 
        Celli, Jr., Director of the National Veterans Affairs 
        and Rehabilitation Division, The American Legion; and 
        Mr. Rick Weidman, Executive Director for Policy and 
        Government Affairs, Vietnam Veterans of America.
    A Statement for the Record was submitted by the following:
          American Battle Monuments Commission; AMVETS; U.S. 
        Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; Iraq and 
        Afghanistan Veterans of America; Military Officers 
        Association of America; Military Veterans Advocacy, 
        Inc.; National Organization of Veterans Advocates; 
        National Veterans Legal Services Program; P.A.W.S. 
        Foundation; Stetson University College of Law's 
        Veterans Law Institute; and the U.S. Department of 
        Labor.

                       SUBCOMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    There was no Subcommittee consideration of H.R. 5047.

                        COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    On September 21, 2016, the full Committee met in open 
markup session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 5047, 
favorably reported to the House of Representatives by voice 
vote.
    A motion by Representative Mark Takano of California to 
report H.R. 5047 favorably to the House of Representatives was 
agreed to by voice vote.

                            COMMITTEE VOTES

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, no recorded votes were taken on 
amendments or in connection with ordering H.R. 5047 reported to 
the House.

                      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 to ensure the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs provides information to GI Bill eligible students about 
schools' articulation agreements.

   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. 5047 does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 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. 
5047, 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. 5047, 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, October 12, 2016.
Hon. Jeff Miller,
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. 5047, the 
Protecting Veterans' Educational Choice Act of 2016.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is David Newman.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 5047--Protecting Veterans' Educational Choice Act of 2016

    H.R. 5047 would require the Department of Veterans Affairs 
(VA) to include information on articulation agreements when it 
provides educational and vocational counseling to veterans. 
Articulation agreements are arrangements between institutions 
of higher learning regarding how those institutions will grant 
academic credit for course work pursued at other such 
institutions. CBO expects that if the bill were enacted, VA 
would provide veterans with the required information as part of 
its regular counseling services.
    CBO estimates that the cost of collecting the necessary 
information from educational institutions would be less than 
$500,000 over the 2017-2021 period; such spending would by 
subject to the availability of appropriated funds.
    Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending 
or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    CBO estimates that enacting HR. 5047 would not increase net 
direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
    H.R. 5047 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 David Newman, 
The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                       FEDERAL MANDATES STATEMENT

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 5047, 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. 
5047.

                 STATEMENT OF CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY

    Pursuant to Article I, section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, H.R. 5047 is authorized by Congress' power to 
``provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the 
United States.

                  APPLICABILITY TO LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

    The Committee finds that H.R. 5047, 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.

              STATEMENT ON DUPLICATION OF FEDERAL PROGRAMS

    Pursuant to section 3(g) of H. Res. 5, 114th Cong. (2015), 
the Committee finds that no provision of H.R. 5047, 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 RULEMAKING

    Pursuant to section 3(i) of H. Res. 5, 114th Cong. (2015), 
the Committee estimates that H.R. 5047 contains no directed 
rule making that would require the Secretary to prescribe 
regulations.

             SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE LEGISLATION

Section 1. Short title

    Section 1 cites the short title of H.R. 5047, to be the 
``Protecting Veterans' Educational Choice Act of 2016.''

Section 2. Department of Veterans Affairs provision of information on 
        articulation agreements between institutions of higher learning

    Section 2(a) would require that VA counselors who provide 
educational or vocational counseling pursuant to section 3697A 
of title 38, U.S.C., also provide information to eligible 
beneficiaries about the articulation agreements of each 
institution of higher learning that they are interested in 
attending.
    Section 2(b) would require that when VA provides a 
certificate of eligibility to veterans for education assistance 
under title 38, U.S.C., that they also provide detailed 
information about their educational assistance benefits 
including information on requesting education counseling and 
articulation agreements.
    Section 2(c) would provide definitions for terms used by 
this section. The term ``institution of higher learning'' would 
have the meaning given to such term in section 3452(f) of title 
38, U.S.C. The term ``articulation agreement'' would have the 
meaning given to such term in section 486A of the Higher 
Education Act of 1965 (P.L. 89-329).
    Section 2(d) would require the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs to implement this Section no later than 90 days after 
enactment.

         CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.

                                  [all]