Report text available as:

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

116th Congress    }                                    {       Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session      }                                    {      116-179

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

 
   TO PERMIT THE SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TO ESTABLISH A GRANT 
PROGRAM TO CONDUCT CEMETERY RESEARCH AND PRODUCE EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS 
                    FOR THE VETERANS LEGACY PROGRAM

                                _______
                                

 July 24, 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. 2385]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 2385) to permit the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs to establish a grant program to conduct cemetery 
research and produce educational materials for the Veterans 
Legacy Program, having considered the same, report favorably 
thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill as 
amended 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     5
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...............................     7
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     7
Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs.....................     7
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     7

    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. GRANTS FOR CEMETERY RESEARCH AND THE PRODUCTION OF 
                    EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS.

  (a) Grants Authorized.--
          (1) In general.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may 
        establish a grant program to conduct cemetery research and 
        produce educational materials for the Veterans Legacy Program.
          (2) Eligible recipients.--The Secretary may award a grant 
        under this section to any of the following entities:
                  (A) An institution of higher learning.
                  (B) A local education agency.
                  (C) A non-profit entity that the Secretary determines 
                has a demonstrated history of community engagement.
                  (D) Another recipient the Secretary determines to be 
                appropriate.
          (3) Use of funds.--A recipient of a grant under this section 
        may use the grant amount to--
                  (A) conduct research related to national, State, or 
                Tribal veterans' cemeteries;
                  (B) produce education materials that teach about the 
                history of veterans interred in national, State, or 
                Tribal veterans' cemeteries; and
                  (C) promote community engagement with the histories 
                of veterans interred in national, State, or Tribal 
                veterans' cemeteries.
          (4) Maximum amount.--A grant awarded under this section may 
        not exceed $500,000.
  (b) Regulations.--If the Secretary establishes a grant program under 
this section, the Secretary shall prescribe regulations regarding--
          (1) the evaluation of applications for grants under the 
        program; and
          (2) administration of the program.
  (c) Report Required.--Not later than two years after the Secretary 
establishes a grant program under this section, the Secretary shall 
submit to the committees on Veterans' Affairs of the House of 
Representatives and the Senate a report regarding the determination of 
the Secretary whether the grant program is a financially effective 
means to promote the purposes in subsection (a)(3).
  (d) Definitions.--In this section:
          (1) The term ``Veterans Legacy Program'' means the program of 
        the National Cemetery Administration that is responsible for 
        providing engagement and educational tools and opportunities to 
        the public regarding the service and sacrifice of veterans 
        interred in national, State, or Tribal veterans' cemeteries.
          (2) The term ``institution of higher learning'' has the 
        meaning given that term in section 3452(f) of title 38, United 
        States Code.
          (3) The term ``local educational agency'' has the meaning 
        given that term in section 8101 of the Elementary and Secondary 
        Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7801).

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 2385, was introduced by Representative Conor Lamb, 
Vice Chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs, on April 
29, 2019. H.R. 2385, as amended, would permit the Secretary of 
Veterans Affairs to establish a grant program to conduct 
cemetery research and produce educational materials for the 
Veterans Legacy Program.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    The National Cemetery Administration's (NCA's) mission is 
to honor veterans and their eligible family members with final 
resting places and to memorialize and commemorate their service 
and sacrifice to our nation. The Veterans Legacy Program (VLP) 
within NCA supports this mission by creating educational 
materials area teachers may use to teach their students and 
others about the veterans buried or inurned in the National 
Veterans Cemeteries in their communities.
    The VLP awards contracts to colleges, universities and 
other institutions to develop these curricula. To date, 16 
separate contracts have been awarded and an impressive array of 
digital and non-digital resources have been produced. Cemetery 
directors say they are delighted to see school children 
visiting the cemeteries as part of their studies because it 
brings in so much interest in veterans' lives by the very 
young.
    NCA, as well as contract awardees, have told Congress that 
grants rather than contracts allow an awards cycle that more 
closely aligns with the academic calendar of higher education 
institutions. VLP administrators have said this vehicle would 
increase the reach of the program beyond large universities to 
smaller groups that wish to engage with VA in memorializing 
veterans. Contract awardees described how under a contract 
arrangement, a one-time payment for the work is not sent until 
the end of the project. A grant configuration would allow for 
more fluid and regular payments throughout the course of the 
work, which in turn would allow for payment by grantees to 
consultants or other vendors for goods and services required 
for the final product.
    NCA specifically requested the statutory authority provided 
in H.R. 2385, as amended, to establish a grant program in lieu 
of the current contract program.

                                Hearings

    On May 1, 2019, the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance 
and Memorial Affairs conducted a legislative hearing on various 
bills introduced during the 116th Congress, including H.R. 
2385.
    The following witnesses testified:
          The Honorable Mark Takano, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 41st Congressional District of 
        California; The Honorable David P. Roe, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 1st Congressional District of 
        Tennessee; The Honorable Conor Lamb, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 17th Congressional District of 
        Pennsylvania; The Honorable Greg Steube, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 17th District of Florida; The 
        Honorable Julia Brownley, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 26th Congressional District of 
        Florida; Mr. Matthew Sullivan, Deputy Under Secretary 
        for Finance and Planning, National Cemetery 
        Administration; accompanied by Mr. Kevin Friel, Deputy 
        Director for Pension and Fiduciary, Veterans Benefits 
        Administration; Dr. Patricia Hastings, Deputy Chief 
        Consultant, Post Deployment Health Service, Veterans 
        Health; Mr. Derrick Curtis, Director, Software Testing 
        & 508, Enterprise Portfolio Management Division, Office 
        of Information Technology; Ms. Melanie Brunson, 
        Government Relations Officer, Blinded Veterans 
        Association; Mr. Karl R. Horst, Major General, U.S. 
        Army (Ret), President and Chief Executive Officer, 
        Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation; Ms. Allison 
        Adelle Hedge Coke, Distinguished Professor of Creative 
        Writing, University of California, Riverside; Mr. 
        Carlos Fuentes, Director, National Legislative Service, 
        Veterans of Foreign Wars; Mr. Rick Weidman, Executive 
        Director, Policy and Government Affairs, Vietnam 
        Veterans of America; Mr. Chanin Nuntavong, Veterans 
        Affairs and Rehabilitation Division Director, The 
        American Legion; Mr. Shane L. Liermann, Assistant 
        National Legislative Director, Disabled American 
        Veterans; and Dr. David A. Butler, Director, Office of 
        Military and Veterans Health, Health and Medicine 
        Division, The National Academies of Sciences, 
        Engineering, and Medicine; accompanied by Dr. Ourania 
        Kosti, Senior Program Officer, Principal Investigator, 
        Radiation Effects Research Foundation, The National 
        Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
    Statements for the record were submitted by:
          The Honorable Doug LaMalfa, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 1st Congressional District of 
        California; Mr. John Wells, Executive Director, The 
        Military-Veterans Advocacy; Mr. Keith Kiefer, National 
        Commander, National Association of Atomic Veterans; Mr. 
        Robert Celestial, SGT, U.S. Army Retired (D.A.V.), 
        Veteran who participated in Enewetak Cleanup; Mr. Ken 
        Brownell, Veteran who participated in Enewetak Cleanup; 
        and The American Federation of Government Employees, 
        AFL-CIO.

                       Subcommittee Consideration

    There was no Subcommittee consideration of H.R. 2385.

                        Committee Consideration

    On May 8, 2019, the Full Committee met in an open markup 
session, a quorum being present. An amendment in the nature of 
a substitute was passed by voice vote. The ANS, offered by 
Representative Mark Takano of California added a mandate to the 
original bill requiring that not later than two years after the 
Secretary establishes the grant program required under the 
provisions of the bill, the Secretary shall submit to the 
Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives 
and the Senate a report regarding the determination of the 
Secretary whether the grant program is a financially effective 
means to promote the purposes of the Act. The Full Committee 
ordered H.R. 2385, as amended, to be 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. 2385, as amended, reported to the 
House. A motion by Ranking Member David P. Roe of Tennessee to 
report H.R. 2385, as amended, 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 establishes the 
following performance goals and objectives for this 
legislation: the establishment a grant program by the Secretary 
of Veterans Affairs which will conduct cemetery research and 
produce educational materials for the Veterans Legacy Program.

             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. 2385, as amended, 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. 
2385, as amended, 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. 2385, as amended, provided by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, May 20, 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. 2385, a bill to 
permit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a grant 
program to conduct cemetery research and produce educational 
materials for the Veterans Legacy Program.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Logan Smith.
            Sincerely,
                                                Keith Hall,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
    

    H.R. 2385 would permit the Department of Veterans Affairs 
(VA) to provide grants to conduct research related to veterans' 
cemeteries and to produce educational materials to memorialize 
veterans for the Veterans Legacy Program (VLP). Under the VLP, 
VA currently enters into contracts with educational 
institutions and nonprofit institutions to memorialize veterans 
interred in national cemeteries. In 2019, VA obligated about $2 
million for that purpose.
    H.R. 2385 would allow VA to provide funding to those 
institutions through grants as well as through contracts. On 
the basis of information from VA, CBO expects that the 
department would use grants rather than contract in most cases, 
and would not increase the amount of funding it would otherwise 
provide for the purpose of memorializing veterans. Thus, CBO 
expects that providing the grant authority would not affect the 
federal budget. The bill would require VA to submit a report on 
whether grants are a financially effective means to promote the 
VLP. Satisfying that reporting requirement would cost less than 
$500,000, subject to the availability of appropriated funds.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Logan Smith. The 
estimate was reviewed by Theresa Gullo, Assistant Director for 
Budget Analysis.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own, the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 2385, as amended, 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. 
2385, as amended.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to Article I, section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, H.R. 2385 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. 2385, as amended, 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. 2385, as amended, 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.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation

    Sec.1(a) (1) Allows the Secretary to establish a grant 
program to conduct cemetery research and produce educational 
materials for the Veterans Legacy Program.
    (2) Eligible recipients could include: An institution of 
higher learning; A local education agency; A non-profit entity 
the Secretary determines has a demonstrated history of 
community engagement; Another recipient the Secretary deems 
appropriate.
    (3) The grant funds can be used to: Research related to 
national, State or Tribal veterans' cemeteries; Produce 
educational materials about or promote community engagement 
with the history of the veterans interred at those cemeteries.
    (4) The maximum grant amount is $500,000.
    (b) Any grant awarded by the Secretary must be accompanied 
with regulations regarding grant application evaluation and 
program administration.
    (c) Not later than 2 years after the Secretary establishes 
a grant program, a report to the Committees on Veterans Affairs 
shall be submitted regarding whether the grant program is a 
financially effective means to promote the purposes of the 
program.
    (d) Definitions

                                  [all]