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116th Congress     }                                    {       Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session       }                                    {      116-118

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

 
   AMENDING TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE, TO REDUCE THE CREDIT HOUR 
REQUIREMENT FOR THE EDITH NOURSE ROGERS STEM SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM OF THE 
                     DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

                                _______
                                

 June 18, 2019.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

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

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2196]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 2196) to amend title 38, United States Code, to 
reduce the credit hour requirement for the Edith Nourse Rogers 
STEM Scholarship program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 
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.......................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
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.............................     4
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................     4
Congressional Budget Office Estimate.............................     4
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. 2196, ``To amend title 38, United States Code, to 
reduce the credit hour requirement for the Edith Nourse Rogers 
STEM Scholarship program of the Department of Veterans 
Affairs,'' was introduced by Representative Andy Barr, along 
with Representative Mike Levin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on 
Economic Opportunity, and Representative Phil Roe, Ranking 
Member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, on April 10, 
2019. H.R. 2196 would adjust the credit hour requirements to 
qualify for the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship, created 
in the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 
2017, Public Law 115-48. H.R. 2196 would reduce the required 
semester credit hours from 128 to 120, in order to allow more 
programs at a wider array of institutions of higher learning to 
qualify for the program.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    Section 111 of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational 
Assistance Act of 2017, Public Law 115-48, created the Edith 
Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship. The Harry W. Colmery Veterans 
Educational Assistance Act of 2017's committee report stated:

          The Committee believes that we should encourage 
        veterans to pursue [Science, Technology, Engineer, and 
        Math (STEM)] positions. To meet this obstacle, there is 
        clearly a need to increase the types of education 
        programs and opportunities that lead to STEM careers. 
        The difficulty that arises is that many of the programs 
        that lead to a degree in the STEM field can take longer 
        to complete than the current 36 months of eligibility 
        provided to students under the GI Bill. This section, 
        therefore, would authorize VA to provide a scholarship 
        to provide additional GI Bill funds to help a student 
        veteran complete a STEM degree. Certain eligible 
        students would be eligible to apply for the program if 
        they are at least half way through a STEM degree and 
        expect their GI Bill benefits to be exhausted before 
        completing their program. The scholarship would pay for 
        nine additional months of the Post-9/11 GI Bill 
        benefit, up to a maximum payment of $30,000. The amount 
        of money that could be spent on this program would not 
        exceed $100,000,000 in any one fiscal year and would be 
        phased in over time by authorizing $25,000,000 in 
        fiscal year 2019; $75,000,000 for each of the fiscal 
        years 2020 through 2022; and $100,000,000 for fiscal 
        year 2023 and each subsequent year. The scholarship 
        would be known as the `Edith Nourse Rogers STEM 
        Scholarship' and is named for the late Congresswoman 
        Edith Nourse Rogers, former Chairwoman of the House 
        Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
          The Committee believes this extra benefit would help 
        student veterans and provide a positive return on 
        investment for the country and the country's national 
        needs. Additionally, the Committee expects VA to use 
        this authority judiciously and ensure that schools are 
        not expanding the number of credit hours needed to 
        complete a STEM program so they can receive additional 
        tuition and fee payments.

    The credit requirement for programs to qualify for this 
scholarship was set at 128 semester hours, or 192 quarter 
hours, to prioritize student veterans in programs with the 
heaviest course loads. As the Department of Veterans Affairs 
(VA) has worked to implement Section 111 of Public Law 115-48, 
VA surveyed institutions of higher learning and discovered only 
3 programs that would qualify. This does not meet the intent of 
Congress in creating the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship, 
and would not enable VA to provide the amount of scholarships 
authorized in PL 115-48.
    H.R. 2196 would modify the credit hour requirement, 
changing the requirement from more than 128 semester hours to 
at least 120 semester hours (192 and 180 quarter hours 
respectively.) This would allow VA to implement Section 111 of 
PL 115-48 in line with Congressional intent by ensuring more 
programs are eligible for the scholarship, while leaving VA 
with the flexibility to adjust the credit hour requirement up 
from 120 semester hours in the future to continue to prioritize 
programs that take longer than the 36 months of eligibility 
student veterans receive under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

                                Hearings

    For the purposes of section 103(i) of H. Res. 6 of the 
116th Congress--the following hearings and meetings were used 
to develop or consider H.R. 2196.
    On April 9, 2019, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity 
conducted a legislative hearing on various bills introduced 
during the 116th Congress, including a discussion draft that 
was later introduced as H.R. 2196.
    The following witnesses testified:
          Ms. Margarita Devlin, Principal Deputy Under 
        Secretary for Benefits, Veterans Benefits 
        Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 
        Ms. Ashlynne Haycock, Deputy Policy Director, Education 
        Support Services, Tragedy Assistance Program for 
        Survivors (TAPS). Mr. Patrick Murray, Deputy Director, 
        National Legislative Service, The Veterans of Foreign 
        Wars. Mr. John Kamin, Credentialing and Education 
        Policy Associate, National Veterans Employment and 
        Education Division, The American Legion. Ms. Rebecca 
        Burgess, Program Manager Citizenship Project, American 
        Enterprise Institute.
    Statements for the record were submitted by:
          Disabled American Veterans

                       Subcommittee Consideration

    On May 1, 2019, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity 
met in an open markup session, a quorum being present, and 
ordered H.R. 2196 favorably forwarded to the Committee on 
Veterans' Affairs by voice vote.
    During the May 1, 2019 consideration, the Subcommittee 
considered H.R. 2196 as introduced. No amendments were offered.

                        Committee Consideration

    On May 8, 2019, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs met in 
an open markup session, a quorum being present, and ordered 
H.R. 2196 reported favorably to the House of Representatives by 
voice vote.

                            Committee Votes

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires the Committee to list the recorded 
votes on the motion to report the legislation and amendments 
thereto. There were no recorded votes taken on amendments or in 
connection with ordering H.R. 2196 reported to the House. A 
motion by Ranking Member Phil Roe of Tennessee to report H.R. 
2196 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 to refine the statutory requirements 
of the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship to meet 
Congressional intent.

   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. 2196 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. 
2196 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. 2196 provided by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974:
    According to the Congressional Budget Office estimate, H.R. 
2196 would increase the number of beneficiaries who would be 
eligible to receive the funds but would not change the total 
amount of scholarships awarded; thus, enacting the bill would 
not affect direct spending or spending subject to 
appropriation.

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, May 14, 2019.
Hon. Mark Takano,
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. 2196, a bill to 
amend title 38, United States Code, to reduce the credit hour 
requirement for the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship 
program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Paul B.A. 
Holland.
            Sincerely,
                                                Keith Hall,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

    [GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
    

    Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill the Department of Veterans 
Affairs (VA) provides monthly housing allowances and pays the 
tuition and fees for beneficiaries pursuing approved education 
programs. Beneficiaries, including veterans, service members, 
and their designated dependents, can receive that assistance 
for up to 36 months. Through the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM 
Scholarship, the department may provide up to nine additional 
months of those benefits to students who pursue undergraduate 
degrees in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, 
health care, or other fields designated by the Secretary of 
Veterans Affairs that require more than 128 semester (or 192 
quarter) credit hours to complete. H.R. 2196 would reduce the 
threshold for eligibility to qualified programs that require at 
least 120 semester (or 180 quarter) credit hours to complete.
    Under current law, VA can provide a total of $25 million in 
scholarships in 2019. That amount increases to $75 million in 
each year from 2020 to 2022, and to $100 million in 2023 and 
each year thereafter. The department expects to award 
scholarships totaling the maximum amounts authorized.
    Reducing the credit hour requirement would increase the 
number of beneficiaries who would be eligible to receive the 
those funds but would not change the total amount of 
scholarships awarded; thus, enacting the bill would not affect 
direct spending.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Paul B.A. 
Holland. The estimate was reviewed by Leo Lex, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 2196 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. 
2196.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to Article I, section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, H.R. 2196 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. 2196 does not relate to the 
terms and conditions of employment or access to public services 
or accommodations within the legislative branch.

              Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(5) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that no provision 
of H.R. 2196 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 clause 3(c)(5) of rule XIII, the Committee 
estimates that H.R. 2196 contains no directed rule making that 
would require the Secretary to prescribe regulations.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation

    Section 1: Reduces the number of credit hours required for 
a program to qualify for the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM 
Scholarship from 128 semester (192 quarter) hours to 120 
semester (180 quarter) hours.

         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):

         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 38, UNITED STATES CODE




           *       *       *       *       *       *       *
PART III--READJUSTMENT AND RELATED BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 33--POST-9/11 EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



SUBCHAPTER II--EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Sec. 3320. Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship

  (a) In General.--Subject to the limitation under subsection 
(f), the Secretary shall provide additional benefits to 
eligible individuals selected by the Secretary under this 
section. Such benefits shall be known as the ``Edith Nourse 
Rogers STEM Scholarship''.
  (b) Eligibility.--For purposes of this section, an eligible 
individual is an individual--
          (1) who is or was entitled to educational assistance 
        under section 3311 of this title;
          (2) who has used all of the educational assistance to 
        which the individual is entitled under this chapter or 
        will, based on the individual's rate of usage, use all 
        of such assistance within 180 days of applying for 
        benefits under this section;
          (3) who applies for assistance under this section; 
        and
          (4) who--
                  (A) is an individual who--
                          (i) is enrolled in a program of 
                        education leading to a post-secondary 
                        degree that, in accordance with the 
                        guidelines of the applicable regional 
                        or national accrediting agency, 
                        requires [more than the standard 128 
                        semester (or 192 quarter) credit hours] 
                        at least the standard 120 semester (or 
                        180 quarter) credit hours for 
                        completion in a standard, undergraduate 
                        college degree in--
                                  (I) biological or biomedical 
                                science;
                                  (II) physical science;
                                  (III) science technologies or 
                                technicians;
                                  (IV) computer and information 
                                science and support services;
                                  (V) mathematics or 
                                statistics;
                                  (VI) engineering;
                                  (VII) engineering 
                                technologies or an engineering-
                                related field;
                                  (VIII) a health profession or 
                                related program;
                                  (IX) a medical residency 
                                program;
                                  (X) an agriculture science 
                                program or a natural resources 
                                science program; or
                                  (XI) other subjects and 
                                fields identified by the 
                                Secretary as meeting national 
                                needs;
                          (ii) has completed at least 60 
                        standard semester (or 90 quarter) 
                        credit hours in a field referred to in 
                        clause (i); or
                  (B) is an individual who has earned a post-
                secondary degree in a field referred to in 
                subparagraph (A)(i) and is enrolled in a 
                program of education leading to a teaching 
                certification.
  (c) Priority.--In selecting eligible individuals to receive 
additional benefits under this section, the Secretary shall 
give priority to the following individuals:
          (1) Individuals who require the most credit hours 
        described in subsection (b)(4).
          (2) Individuals who are entitled to educational 
        assistance under this chapter by reason of paragraph 
        (1), (2), (8), or (9) of section 3311(b) of this title.
  (d) Amount of Assistance.--(1) The Secretary shall pay to 
each eligible individual who receives additional benefits under 
this section the monthly amount payable under section 3313 of 
this title for not more than 9 months of the program of 
education in which the individual is enrolled (adjusted with 
respect to the individual pursuant to section 3313(c), as 
appropriate), except that the aggregate amount paid to an 
individual under this section may not exceed $30,000.
  (2) The Secretary may not pay to such an individual an amount 
in addition to the amount payable under paragraph (1) by reason 
of section 3317 of this title.
  (3) An individual who receives additional benefits under this 
section may also receive amounts payable by a college or 
university pursuant to section 3317 of this title.
  (e) Prohibition on Transfer.--An individual who receives 
additional benefits under this section may not transfer any 
amount of such additional benefits under section 3319 of this 
title.
  (f) Maximum Amount of Total Assistance.--The total amount of 
benefits paid to all eligible individuals under this section 
may not exceed--
          (1) $25,000,000 for fiscal year 2019;
          (2) $75,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2020 through 
        2022; and
          (3) $100,000,000 for fiscal year 2023 and each 
        subsequent fiscal year.
  (g) Congressional Notice.--If the Secretary identifies a new 
subject or field pursuant to subsection (b)(4)(A)(i)(XI) as 
meeting a national need, the Secretary shall submit to Congress 
notice of such identification at least 90 days before 
conferring eligibility on any individual for purposes of this 
section on the basis of such identification, including any 
analysis of labor market supply and demand used in identifying 
the new subject or field, as applicable.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


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