< Back to S. 1711 (104th Congress, 1995–1996)

Text of the Veterans’ Benefits Improvements Act of 1996

This bill was enacted after being signed by the President on October 9, 1996. The text of the bill below is as of Apr 29, 1996 (Introduced).

This is not the latest text of this bill.

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S 1711 IS

104th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 1711

To establish a commission to evaluate the programs of the Federal Government that assist members of the Armed Forces and veterans in readjusting to civilian life, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

April 29, 1996

Mr. DOLE introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs


A BILL

To establish a commission to evaluate the programs of the Federal Government that assist members of the Armed Forces and veterans in readjusting to civilian life, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.

    (a) ESTABLISHMENT- There is established a commission to be known as the Commission on Service Members and Veterans Transition Assistance (hereafter in this Act referred to as the ‘Commission’).

    (b) MEMBERSHIP-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Commission shall be composed of 12 members appointed from among private United States citizens with appropriate and diverse veterans, military, organizational, and management experiences and historical perspectives, of whom--

        (A) four shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate, in consultation with the Ranking Member of that committee;

        (B) four shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives, in consultation with the Ranking Member of that committee;

        (C) two shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate, in consultation with the Ranking Member of that committee; and

        (D) two shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Committee on National Security of the House of Representatives, in consultation with the Ranking Member of that committee.

      (2) VSO MEMBERS- One member of the Commission appointed under each of subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1) shall be a representative of a veterans service organization.

      (3) DATE- The appointments of the members of the Commission shall be made not later than 45 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

    (c) PERIOD OF APPOINTMENT; VACANCIES- Members shall be appointed for the life of the Commission. Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.

    (d) INITIAL MEETING- Not later than 30 days after the date on which all members of the Commission have been appointed, the Commission shall hold its first meeting.

    (e) QUORUM- A majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number may hold hearings.

    (f) CHAIRMAN AND VICE CHAIRMAN- The Commission shall select a Chairman and Vice Chairman from among its members.

    (g) MEETINGS- The Commission shall meet at the call of the Chairman.

    (h) PANELS- The Commission may establish panels composed of less than the full membership of the Commission for the purpose of carrying out the Commission’s duties under this Act. The actions of such panels shall be subject to the review and control of the Commission. Any findings and determinations made by such a panel shall not be considered the findings and determinations of the Commission unless approved by the Commission.

    (i) AUTHORITY OF INDIVIDUALS TO ACT FOR COMMISSION- Any member or agent of the Commission may, if authorized by the Commission, take any action which the Commission is authorized to take under this Act.

SEC. 2. DUTIES OF COMMISSION.

    (a) IN GENERAL- The Commission shall--

      (1) review the efficacy and appropriateness of veterans transition and assistance programs in providing assistance to members of the Armed Forces in making the transition and adjustment to civilian life upon their separation from the Armed Forces and in providing assistance to veterans in adjusting to civilian life;

      (2) evaluate proposals for improving such programs, including proposals to consolidate, streamline, and enhance the provision of such assistance and proposals for alternative means of providing such assistance; and

      (3) make recommendations to Congress regarding means of ensuring the continuing utility of such programs and assistance and of otherwise improving such programs and the provision of such assistance.

    (b) REVIEW OF PROGRAMS TO ASSIST MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES AT SEPARATION-

      (1) IN GENERAL- While carrying out the general duties specified in subsection (a), the members of the Commission appointed under subparagraphs (C) and (D) of section 1(b)(1) shall review primarily programs intended to assist members of the Armed Forces at the time of their separation from service in the Armed Forces, including programs designed to assist families of such members in preparing for the transition of such members from military life to civilian life and to facilitate that transition.

      (2) SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS- In carrying out the review, such members of the Commission shall determine--

        (A) the adequacy of the programs referred to in paragraph (1) for their purposes;

        (B) the adequacy of the support of the Armed Forces for such programs;

        (C) the effect, if any, of the existence of such programs on combat readiness;

        (D) the extent to which such programs provide members of the Armed Forces with job-search skills;

        (E) the extent to which such programs prepare such members for employment in the private sector and in the public sector;

        (F) the effectiveness of such programs in assisting such members in finding employment in the public sector; and

        (G) the means by which such programs could be improved in order to assist such members in securing meaningful employment in the private sector upon their separation from service.

    (c) REVIEW OF PROGRAMS TO ASSIST VETERANS-

      (1) IN GENERAL- While carrying out the general duties specified in subsection (a), the members of the Commission appointed under subparagraphs (A) and (B) of section 1(b)(1) shall review primarily the adequacy of programs intended to assist veterans (including disabled veterans, homeless veterans, and economically disadvantaged veterans), including the programs referred to in paragraph (2).

      (2) COVERED PROGRAMS- The programs referred to in paragraph (1) are the following:

        (A) Educational assistance programs.

        (B) Job counseling, job training, and job placement services programs.

        (C) Rehabilitation and training programs.

        (D) Housing loan programs.

        (E) Small business loan and small business assistance programs.

        (F) Employment and employment training programs for employment in the public sector and the private sector.

        (G) Federal Government personnel policies (including veterans’ preference policies) and the enforcement of such policies.

        (H) Programs that prepare the families of veterans for their transition from military life to civilian life and facilitate that transition.

    (d) REPORTS-

      (1) IMPLEMENTING PLAN- Not later than 90 days after the date on which all members of the Commission have been appointed, the Commission shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs and Armed Services of the Senate and the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs and National Security of the House of Representatives a report setting forth a plan for the work of the Commission. The Commission shall develop the plan in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the heads of other appropriate departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

      (2) FINAL REPORT-

        (A) REQUIREMENT- Not later than one year after the date of the first meeting of the Commission, the Commission shall submit to the committees referred to in paragraph (1), and to the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Education, a report setting forth the activities, findings, and recommendations of the Commission, including any recommendations for legislative action and administrative action as the Commission considers appropriate.

        (B) EXECUTIVE COMMENT- Not later than 90 days after receiving the report referred to in subparagraph (A), the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall jointly submit to Congress a report setting forth the comments of such Secretaries with respect to the report.

SEC. 3. POWERS OF COMMISSION.

    (a) HEARINGS- The Commission may hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, and receive such evidence as the Commission considers advisable to carry out the purposes of this Act.

    (b) INFORMATION FROM FEDERAL AGENCIES- The Commission may secure directly from the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and any other department or agency of the Federal Government such information as the Commission considers necessary to carry out its duties under this Act. Upon request of the Chairman of the Commission, the head of such department or agency shall furnish such information expeditiously to the Commission.

SEC. 4. MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS.

    (a) POSTAL SERVICES- The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as other departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

    (b) GIFTS- The Commission may accept, use and dispose of gifts or donations of services or property.

    (c) MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT- The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall, upon the request of the Chairman of the Commission, furnish the Commission, on a reimbursable

basis, any administrative and support services as the Commission may require.

SEC. 5. COMMISSION PERSONNEL MATTERS.

    (a) COMPENSATION OF MEMBERS- Each member of the Commission who is not an officer or employee of the Federal Government shall be compensated at a rate equal to the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code, for each day (including travel time) during which such member is engaged in performing the duties of the Commission. All members of the Commission who are officers or employees of the United States shall serve without compensation in addition to that received for their services as officers or employees of the United States.

    (b) TRAVEL AND TRAVEL EXPENSES-

      (1) TRAVEL- Members and personnel of the Commission may travel on military aircraft, military vehicles, or other military conveyances when travel is necessary in the performance of a responsibility of the Commission except when the cost of commercial transportation is less expensive.

      (2) EXPENSES- The members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized for employees of agencies under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, while away from their homes or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Commission.

    (c) STAFF-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Chairman of the Commission may, without regard to civil service laws and regulations, appoint and terminate an executive director and such other additional personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to perform its duties. In appointing an individual as executive director, the Chairman shall, to the maximum extent practicable, attempt to appoint an individual who is a veteran. The employment of an executive director shall be subject to confirmation by the Commission.

      (2) COMPENSATION- The Chairman of the Commission may fix the compensation of the executive director and other personnel without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, United States Code, relating to classification of positions and General Schedule pay rates, except that the rate of pay for the executive director and other personnel may not exceed the rate payable for level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of such title.

    (d) DETAIL OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES- Upon request of the Chairman of the Commission, the head of any department or agency of the Federal Government may detail, on a nonreimbursable basis, any personnel of the department or agency to the Commission to assist the Commission in carrying out its duties.

    (e) PROCUREMENT OF TEMPORARY AND INTERMITTENT SERVICES- The Chairman of the Commission may procure temporary and intermittent services under section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code, at rates for individuals which do not exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of such title.

SEC. 6. TERMINATION OF COMMISSION.

    The Commission shall terminate 90 days after the date on which the Commission submits its report under section 2(d)(2).

SEC. 7. DEFINITIONS.

    For the purposes of this Act--

      (1) The term ‘veterans transition and assistance program’ means any program of the Federal Government, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Education, the purpose of which is--

        (A) to assist, by rehabilitation or other means, members of the Armed Forces in readjusting or otherwise making the transition to civilian life upon their separation from service in the Armed Forces; or

        (B) to assist veterans in civilian life.

      (2) The term ‘members of the Armed Forces’ includes individuals serving in the reserve components of the Armed Forces.

      (3) The term ‘veteran’ has the meaning given such term in section 101(2) of title 38, United States Code.

      (4) The term ‘veterans service organization’ means any organization covered by section 5902(a) of title 38, United States Code.

SEC. 8. FUNDING.

    (a) IN GENERAL- The Secretary of Defense shall, upon the request of the Chairman of the Commission, make available to the Commission such amounts as the Commission may require to carry out its duties under this Act. The Secretary shall make such amounts available from amounts appropriated for the Department of Defense.

    (b) AVAILABILITY- Any sums made available to the Commission under subsection (a) shall remain available, without fiscal year limitation, until the termination of the Commission.