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115th Congress    }                                 {    Rept. 115-825
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session       }                                 {           Part 1

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



 
                  VETERANS TRANSITION IMPROVEMENT ACT

                                _______
                                

                 July 16, 2018.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Gowdy, from the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2648]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 2648) to amend title 38, United 
States Code, to ensure that the requirements that new Federal 
employees who are veterans with service-connected disabilities 
are provided leave for purposes of undergoing medical treatment 
for such disabilities apply to certain employees of the 
Veterans Health Administration, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon with an amendment 
and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Summary and Purpose of Legislation...............................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     2
Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the 
  Committee......................................................     3
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     3
Legislative History..............................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     4
Roll Call Votes..................................................     4
Explanation of Amendments........................................     4
Application of Law to the Legislative Branch.....................     4
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................     4
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings..............................     4
Federal Advisory Committee Act...................................     4
Unfunded Mandates Statement......................................     5
Earmark Identification...........................................     5
Committee Estimate...............................................     5
New Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost 
  Estimate.......................................................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis......................................     6
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     6
Correspondence...................................................     8

    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 Transition Improvement Act''.

SEC. 2. DISABLED VETERAN LEAVE FOR HEALTH-CARE PROFESSIONALS IN 
                    VETERANS HEALTH ADMINISTRATION.

  (a) In General.--Section 6329(d)(1) of title 5, United States Code, 
is amended to read as follows:
          ``(1) the term `employee' has the meaning given such term in 
        section 2105, and includes--
                  ``(A) an officer or employee of the United States 
                Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission; and
                  ``(B) notwithstanding subsection (a) of section 7421 
                of title 38, an individual occupying a position listed 
                in subsection (b) of such section;''.
  (b) Applicability.--With respect to a position listed in section 
7421(b) of title 38, United States Code, the amendment made by 
subsection (a) shall apply to any individual appointed to such a 
position on or after the date of enactment of this Act.

                   Summary and Purpose of Legislation

    The Veterans Transition Improvement Act provides additional 
sick leave for veterans with service-connected disabilities 
hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    In fiscal year 2016, the federal government employed 
635,556 veterans, which constituted over 31 percent of the 
total federal civilian workforce.\1\ That same year, the 
executive branch hired over 71,000 veterans, which comprised 31 
percent of all new hires.\2\ Nearly 22,000 veterans were hired 
with a service-connected disability rated at 30 percent or 
more.\3\ The Department of Veterans Affairs alone hired 5,564 
veterans with a service-connected disability rated at 30 
percent or more.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Office of Personnel Mgm't, Employment of Veterans in the Federal 
Executive Branch Fiscal Year 2016 at 2 (2017).
    \2\Id. at 12.
    \3\Id.
    \4\Id. at 16.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 2015, Congress enacted the Wounded Warrior Federal Leave 
Act to help disabled veterans transitioning to civilian 
service.\5\ As the committee report accompanying the law 
stated:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\Pub. L. 114-75 (2015).

          [F]ull-time federal workers accrue four hours of sick 
        leave each full biweekly pay period, totaling 13 days 
        of sick leave per year. Since federal workers begin 
        with a zero sick leave balance, disabled veterans 
        beginning civilian jobs often have insufficient leave 
        to receive necessary medical treatment for post-
        traumatic stress disorder, severe physical injuries, 
        and other service-connected disabilities.\6\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\H. Comm. on Oversight & Gov't Reform, Wounded Warriors Federal 
Leave Act of 2015 2, 114th Cong. (2015) (H. Rep. 114-180).

    The Wounded Warrior Federal Leave Act allowed up to 104 
hours (13 days) of immediate paid sick leave for veterans hired 
by federal agencies with service-connected conditions rated as 
30 percent or more disabled.\7\ This sick leave is for 
attending medical treatment related to the service-connected 
disability and must be used within 12 months of beginning 
employment.\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \7\5 U.S.C. 6329.
    \8\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 
has authority under current law to prescribe the ``hours and 
conditions of employment and leaves of absence'' of eight 
medical occupations.\9\ Generally speaking, this means the 
Secretary may choose which government-wide personnel rules from 
title 5 of the United States Code apply to these occupations, 
and the Secretary may alter the rules as necessary unless 
explicitly prohibited from doing so in statute.\10\ 
Notwithstanding this authority, in July of 2017, the Secretary 
extended paid sick leave to veterans in these medical positions 
consistent with the Wounded Warrior Federal Leave Act.\11\ 
Because the law does not explicitly address medical occupations 
the provision is discretionary and subject to change by the 
Secretary. H.R. 2648 establishes in law the additional leave 
provided to veterans who convert to federal civilian service in 
the eight medical occupations at the VA and have service-
connected disabilities rated at 30 percent or more.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \9\38 U.S.C. 7421.
    \10\See e.g. 5 U.S.C. 2105(f)--``For purposes of sections 1212, 
1213, 1214, 1215, 1216, 1221, 1222, 2302, and 7701, employees appointed 
under chapter 73 or 74 of title 38 shall be employees.'' This 
subsection requires government-wide personnel rules relating to 
whistleblowers, prohibited personnel practices, Merit Systems 
Protection Board appellate coverage, and the like to apply to 
Department of Veterans Affairs employees hired under title 38 
authority, and the Secretary of the Department has no legal authority 
to alter application of the listed provisions.
    \11\Dep't of Veterans Affairs, VA Handbook 5011/29 Transmittal 
Sheet 7 (July 5, 2017).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

  Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the Committee

    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 previous section.

         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 
goal or objective of this bill is to ensure newemployees of the 
Veterans Health Administration who are veterans with service-connected 
disabilities are provided leave for purposes of undergoing medical 
treatment for such disabilities.

                          Legislative History

    On May 24, 2017, Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH) 
introduced H.R. 2648, the Veterans Transition Improvement Act, 
with Representative Mark Takano (D-CA). H.R. 2648 was referred 
to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, with an additional 
referral to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform considered 
H.R. 2648 at a business meeting on May 23, 2018 and ordered the 
bill, as amended, favorably reported by voice vote.
    Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced S. 899, the Senate 
companion to H.R. 2648, on April 7, 2017, which was referred to 
the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. On March 20, 2018, 
the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs was discharged with 
consideration of the bill and it passed the Senate by unanimous 
consent. The bill was received in the House and referred to the 
Committee on Veterans' Affairs, with an additional referral to 
the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the following 
day.

                        Committee Consideration

    On May 23, 2018, the Committee met in open session and, 
with a quorum being present, ordered the bill favorably 
reported, as amended, by voice vote.

                            Roll Call Votes

    There were no roll call votes requested or conducted during 
Committee consideration of H.R. 2648.

                       Explanation of Amendments

    During Committee consideration of the bill, Representative 
Steve Russell (R-OK), offered an amendment in the nature of a 
substitute to change the title amended by the bill from title 
38 (the Department of Veterans Affairs personnel authority) to 
title 5 (the Wounded Warrior Federal Leave Act), United States 
Code.

              Application of Law to the Legislative Branch

    Section 102(b)(3) of Public Law 104-1 requires a 
description of the application of this bill to the legislative 
branch where the bill relates to the terms and conditions of 
employment or access to public services and accommodations. 
This bill ensures new employees of the Veterans Health 
Administration who are veterans with service-connected 
disabilities are provided leave for purposes of undergoing 
medical treatment for such disabilities. As such, this bill 
does not relate to employment or access to public services and 
accommodations.

                    Duplication of Federal Programs

    In accordance with clause 2(c)(5) of rule XIII no provision 
of this bill 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

    This bill does not direct the completion of any specific 
rule makings within the meaning of section 551 of title 5, 
United States Code.

                     Federal Advisory Committee Act

    The Committee finds the legislation does not establish or 
authorize the establishment of an advisory committee within the 
definition of Section 5(b) of the appendix to title 5, United 
States Code.

                      Unfunded Mandates Statement

    Pursuant to section 423 of the Congressional Budget and 
Impoundment Control Act (Pub. L. 113-67) the Committee has 
included a letter received from the Congressional Budget Office 
below.

                         Earmark Identification

    This bill does not include any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 of rule XXI of the House of Representatives.

                           Committee Estimate

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(2)(B) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee includes below a 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

   New Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the House of 
Representatives, the cost estimate prepared by the 
Congressional Budget Office and submitted pursuant to section 
402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 is as follows:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, June 5, 2018.
Hon. Trey Gowdy,
Chairman, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2648, the Veterans 
Transition Improvement Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Ann E. 
Futrell.
            Sincerely,
                                                Keith Hall,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 2648--Veterans Transition Improvement Act

    H.R. 2648 would apply a federal leave policy for veterans 
with disabilities to medical personnel at the Department of 
Veterans Affairs (VA) who are also disabled veterans. Under 
that policy, which is specified in title V of the U.S. Code, 
veterans with a disability rated at 30 percent or greater who 
are newly hired by certain federal agencies are entitled to 
extra medical leave to treat such conditions, without loss or 
reduction in their pay.
    According to VA, the bill would codify in law its current 
policies for medical personnel, which is to provide medical 
leave benefits for disabled veterans that are consistent with 
the provisions of title V. As a result, CBO estimates that 
implementing H.R. 2648 would have no effect on the department's 
personnel policies for medical employees or on federal spending 
for the compensation and benefits of those employees. CBO 
estimates that implementing H.R. 2648 would cost less than 
$500,000 over the 2019-2023 period to prepare regulations; that 
spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated 
funds.
    Enacting H.R. 2648 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2648 would not increase 
net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2029.
    H.R. 2648 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Ann E. Futrell. 
The estimate was reviewed by Theresa Gullo, Assistant Director 
for Budget Analysis.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short title

    Section 1 establishes the short title of the bill.

Sec. 2. Disabled veteran leave for health-care professionals in 
        Veterans Health Administration

    Section 2 amends section 6329 of title 5, United States 
Code, to extend coverage under the Wounded Warrior Federal 
Leave Act to Department of Veterans Affairs employees hired 
into eight medical occupations.

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

                      TITLE 5, UNITED STATES CODE




           *       *       *       *       *       *       *
PART III--EMPLOYEES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SUBPART E--ATTENDANCE AND LEAVE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 63--LEAVE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



SUBCHAPTER II--OTHER PAID LEAVE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Sec. 6329. Disabled veteran leave

  (a) During the 12-month period beginning on the first day of 
employment, any employee who is a veteran with a service-
connected disability rated at 30 percent or more is entitled to 
leave, without loss or reduction in pay, for purposes of 
undergoing medical treatment for such disability for which sick 
leave could regularly be used.
  (b)(1) The leave credited to an employee under subsection (a) 
may not exceed 104 hours.
  (2) Any leave credited to an employee pursuant to subsection 
(a) that is not used during the 12-month period described in 
such subsection may not be carried over and shall be forfeited.
  (c) In order to verify that leave credited to an employee 
pursuant to subsection (a) is used for treating a service-
connected disability, such employee shall submit to the head of 
the employing agency certification, in such form and manner as 
the Director of the Office of Personnel Management may 
prescribe, that such employee used such leave for purposes of 
being furnished treatment for such disability by a health care 
provider.
  (d) In this section--
          [(1) the term ``employee'' has the meaning given such 
        term in section 2105, and includes an officer or 
        employee of the United States Postal Service or of the 
        Postal Regulatory Commission;]
          (1) the term ``employee'' has the meaning given such 
        term in section 2105, and includes--
                  (A) an officer or employee of the United 
                States Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory 
                Commission; and
                  (B) notwithstanding subsection (a) of section 
                7421 of title 38, an individual occupying a 
                position listed in subsection (b) of such 
                section;
          (2) the term ``service-connected'' has the meaning 
        given such term in section 101(16) of title 38; and
          (3) the term ``veteran'' has the meaning given such 
        term in section 101(2) of such title.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

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