S. 1402 (106th): Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2000

106th Congress, 1999–2000. Text as of Jul 27, 1999 (Referred to House Committee).

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S 1402 RFH

106th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 1402

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

July 27, 1999

Referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


AN ACT

To amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance programs providing education benefits for veterans, 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. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘All-Volunteer Force Educational Assistance Programs Improvements Act of 1999’.

SEC. 2. REFERENCES TO TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE.

    Except as otherwise expressly provided, whenever in this Act an amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment to, or repeal of, a section or other provision, the reference shall be considered to be made to a section or other provision of title 38, United States Code.

SEC. 3. AVAILABILITY OF MONTGOMERY GI BILL BENEFITS FOR PREPARATORY COURSES FOR COLLEGE AND GRADUATE SCHOOL ENTRANCE EXAMS.

    Section 3002(3) is amended--

      (1) in subparagraph (A), by striking ‘and’ at the end;

      (2) by redesignating subparagraph (B) as subparagraph (C); and

      (3) by inserting after subparagraph (A) the following new subparagraph (B):

      ‘(B) includes--

        ‘(i) a preparatory course for a test that is required or utilized for admission to an institution of higher education; and

        ‘(ii) a preparatory course for a test that is required or utilized for admission to a graduate school; and’.

SEC. 4. INCREASE IN BASIC BENEFIT OF ACTIVE DUTY EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE.

    (a) INCREASE IN BASIC BENEFIT- Section 3015 is amended--

      (1) in subsection (a)(1), by striking ‘$528’ and inserting ‘$600’; and

      (2) in subsection (b)(1), by striking ‘$429’ and inserting ‘$488’.

    (b) EFFECTIVE DATE- The amendments made by subsection (a) shall take effect on October 1, 1999, and shall apply with respect to educational assistance allowances paid for months after September 1999. However, no adjustment in rates of educational assistance shall be made under section 3015(g) of title 38, United States Code, for fiscal year 2000.

SEC. 5. INCREASE IN RATES OF SURVIVORS AND DEPENDENTS EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE.

    (a) SURVIVORS AND DEPENDENTS EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE- Section 3532 is amended--

      (1) in subsection (a)(1)--

        (A) by striking ‘$485’ and inserting ‘$550’;

        (B) by striking ‘$365’ and inserting ‘$414’; and

        (C) by striking ‘$242’ and inserting ‘$274’;

      (2) in subsection (a)(2), by striking ‘$485’ and inserting ‘$550’;

      (3) in subsection (b), by striking ‘$485’ and inserting ‘$550’; and

      (4) in subsection (c)(2)--

        (A) by striking ‘$392’ and inserting ‘$445’;

        (B) by striking ‘$294’ and inserting ‘$333’; and

        (C) by striking ‘$196’ and inserting ‘$222’.

    (b) CORRESPONDENCE COURSE- Section 3534(b) is amended by striking ‘$485’ and inserting ‘$550’.

    (c) SPECIAL RESTORATIVE TRAINING- Section 3542(a) is amended--

      (1) by striking ‘$485’ and inserting ‘$550’;

      (2) by striking ‘$152’ each place it appears and inserting ‘$172’; and

      (3) by striking ‘$16.16’ and inserting ‘$18.35’.

    (d) APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING- Section 3687(b)(2) is amended--

      (1) by striking ‘$353’ and inserting ‘$401’;

      (2) by striking ‘$264’ and inserting ‘$299’;

      (3) by striking ‘$175’ and inserting ‘$198’; and

      (4) by striking ‘$88’ and inserting ‘$99’.

    (e) EFFECTIVE DATE- The amendments made by this section shall take effect on October 1, 1999, and shall apply with respect to educational assistance paid for months after September 1999.

SEC. 6. INCREASED ACTIVE DUTY EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE BENEFIT FOR CONTRIBUTING MEMBERS.

    (a) AUTHORITY TO MAKE CONTRIBUTIONS FOR INCREASED ASSISTANCE AMOUNT- (1) Section 3011 is amended--

      (A) by redesignating subsection (i) as subsection (j); and

      (B) by inserting after subsection (h) the following new subsection (i):

    ‘(i)(1) Any individual eligible for educational assistance under this section who does not make an election under subsection (c)(1) may contribute amounts for purposes of receiving an increased amount of basic educational assistance as provided for under section 3015(g) of this title. Such contributions shall be in addition to any reductions in the basic pay of such individual under subsection (b).

    ‘(2) An individual covered by paragraph (1) may make the contributions authorized by that paragraph at any time while on active duty.

    ‘(3) The total amount of the contributions made by an individual under paragraph (1) may not exceed $600. Such contributions shall be made in multiples of $4.

    ‘(4) Contributions under this subsection shall be made to the Secretary. The Secretary shall deposit any amounts received by the Secretary as contributions under this subsection into the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts.’.

    (2) Section 3012 is amended--

      (A) by redesignating subsection (g) as subsection (h); and

      (B) by inserting after subsection (f) the following new subsection (g):

    ‘(g)(1) Any individual eligible for educational assistance under this section who does not make an election under subsection (d)(1) may contribute amounts for purposes of receiving an increased amount of basic educational assistance as provided for under section 3015(g) of this title. Such contributions shall be in addition to any reductions in the basic pay of such individual under subsection (c).

    ‘(2) An individual covered by paragraph (1) may make the contributions authorized by that paragraph at any time while on active duty.

    ‘(3) The total amount of the contributions made by an individual under paragraph (1) may not exceed $600. Such contributions shall be made in multiples of $4.

    ‘(4) Contributions under this subsection shall be made to the Secretary. The Secretary shall deposit any amounts received by the Secretary as contributions under this subsection into the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts.’.

    (b) INCREASED ASSISTANCE AMOUNT- Section 3015, as amended by section 4 of this Act, is further amended--

      (1) by striking ‘subsection (g)’ each place it appears in subsections (a)(1) and (b)(1) and inserting ‘subsection (h)’;

      (2) by redesignating subsection (g) as subsection (h); and

      (3) by inserting after subsection (f) the following new subsection (g):

    ‘(g) In the case of an individual who has made contributions authorized by section 3011(i) or 3012(g) of this title, the monthly amount of basic educational assistance allowance applicable to such individual under subsection (a), (b), or (c) shall be the monthly rate otherwise provided for under the applicable subsection increased by--

      ‘(1) an amount equal to $1 for each $4 contributed by such individual under section 3011(i) or 3012(g), as the case may be, for an approved program of education pursued on a full-time basis; or

      ‘(2) an appropriately reduced amount based on the amount so contributed, as determined under regulations which the Secretary shall prescribe, for an approved program of education pursued on less than a full-time basis.’.

    (c) EFFECTIVE DATE- The amendments made by this section shall take effect on January 1, 2000.

SEC. 7. CONTINUING ELIGIBILITY FOR EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES ATTENDING OFFICER TRAINING SCHOOL.

    Section 3011(a)(1) is amended--

      (1) in subparagraph (A)(ii)--

        (A) by striking ‘or (III)’ and inserting ‘(III)’; and

        (B) by inserting before the semicolon at the end the following: ‘or (IV) for immediate reenlistment to accept a commission as an officer and subsequently completes the resulting obligated period of active duty service as a commissioned officer’; and

      (2) in subparagraph (B)(ii)--

        (A) by striking ‘, or (III)’ and inserting ‘; (III)’; and

        (B) by inserting before the semicolon at the end the following: ‘or (IV) for immediate reenlistment to accept a commission as an officer and subsequently completes the resulting obligated period of active duty service as a commissioned officer’.

SEC. 8. ELIGIBILITY OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES TO WITHDRAW ELECTIONS NOT TO RECEIVE MONTGOMERY GI BILL BASIC EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE.

    (a) MEMBERS ON ACTIVE DUTY- Section 3011(c) is amended by adding at the end the following:

    ‘(4)(A) An individual who makes an election under paragraph (1) may withdraw the election at any time before the discharge or release of the individual from active duty in the Armed Forces. An individual who withdraws such an election may become entitled to basic educational assistance under this chapter.

    ‘(B) The withdrawal of an election under this paragraph shall be made in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense or by the Secretary of Transportation with respect to the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the Navy.

    ‘(C)(i) In the case of an individual who withdraws an election under this paragraph--

      ‘(I) the basic pay of the individual shall be reduced by $100 for each month after the month in which the election is made until the total amount of such reductions equals $1,500; or

      ‘(II) to the extent that basic pay is not so reduced before the individual’s discharge or release from active duty in the Armed Forces, the Secretary, before authorizing the payment of educational assistance under this chapter, shall ensure that an amount equal to the difference between $1,500 and the total amount of reductions under subclause (I) was paid before the discharge or release of the individual from active duty in the Armed Forces.

    ‘(ii) An individual described in clause (i) may pay the Secretary at any time before discharge or release from active duty in the Armed Forces an amount equal to the total amount of the reduction in basic pay otherwise required with respect to the individual under that clause minus the total amount of reductions of basic pay of the individual under that clause at the time of the payment under this clause.

    ‘(iii) The second sentence of subsection (b) shall apply to any reductions in basic pay under clause (i)(I).

    ‘(iv) Amounts paid under clauses (i)(II) and (ii) shall be deposited into the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts.

    ‘(D) The withdrawal of an election under this paragraph is irrevocable.’.

    (b) MEMBERS OF SELECTED RESERVE- Section 3012(d) is amended by adding at the end the following:

    ‘(4)(A) An individual who makes an election under paragraph (1) may withdraw the election at any time before the discharge or release of the individual from the Armed Forces. An individual who withdraws such an election may become entitled to basic educational assistance under this chapter.

    ‘(B) The withdrawal of an election under this paragraph shall be made in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense or by the Secretary of Transportation with respect to the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the Navy.

    ‘(C)(i) In the case of an individual who withdraws an election under this paragraph--

      ‘(I) the basic pay or compensation of the individual shall be reduced by $100 for each month after the month in which the election is made until the total amount of such reductions equals $1,500; or

      ‘(II) to the extent that basic pay or compensation is not so reduced before the individual’s discharge or release from the Armed Forces, the Secretary, before authorizing the payment of educational assistance under this chapter, shall ensure that an amount equal to the difference between $1,500 and the total amount of reductions under subclause (I) was paid before the discharge or release of the individual from the Armed Forces.

    ‘(ii) An individual described in clause (i) may pay the Secretary at any time before discharge or release from the Armed Forces an amount equal to the total amount of the reduction in basic pay or compensation otherwise required with respect to the individual under that clause minus the total amount of reductions of basic pay or compensation of the individual under that clause at the time of the payment under this clause.

    ‘(iii) The second sentence of subsection (c) shall apply to any reductions in basic pay or compensation under clause (i)(I).

    ‘(iv) Amounts paid under clauses (i)(II) and (ii) shall be deposited into the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts.

    ‘(D) The withdrawal of an election under this paragraph is irrevocable.’.

SEC. 9. ACCELERATED PAYMENTS OF BASIC EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE.

    Section 3014 is amended--

      (1) by inserting ‘(a)’ before ‘The Secretary’; and

      (2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

    ‘(b)(1) The Secretary may make payments of basic educational assistance under this subchapter on an accelerated basis.

    ‘(2) The Secretary may pay basic educational assistance on an accelerated basis under this subsection only to an individual entitled to payment of such assistance under this subchapter who has made a request for payment of such assistance on an accelerated basis.

    ‘(3) In the event an adjustment under section 3015(g) of this title in the monthly rate of basic educational assistance will occur during a period for which a payment of such assistance is made on an accelerated basis under this subsection, the Secretary shall pay on an accelerated basis the amount of such assistance otherwise payable under this subchapter for the period without regard to the adjustment under that section.

    ‘(4) For each accelerated payment made to an individual, the individual’s entitlement under this subchapter shall be charged as if the individual had received a monthly educational assistance allowance for the period of educational pursuit covered by the accelerated payment.

    ‘(5) Basic educational assistance shall be paid on an accelerated basis under this subsection as follows:

      ‘(A) In the case of assistance for a course leading to a standard college degree, at the beginning of the quarter, semester, or term of the course in a lump-sum amount equivalent to the aggregate amount of monthly assistance otherwise payable under this subchapter for the quarter, semester, or term, as the case may be, of the course.

      ‘(B) In the case of assistance for a course other than a course referred to in subparagraph (A)--

        ‘(i) at the later of (I) the beginning of the course, or (II) a reasonable time after the request for payment by the individual concerned; and

        ‘(ii) in any amount requested by the individual concerned within the limit, if any, specified in the regulations prescribed by the Secretary under paragraph (6), with such limit not to exceed the aggregate amount of monthly assistance otherwise payable under this subchapter for the period of the course.

    ‘(6) The Secretary shall prescribe regulations for purposes of making payments of basic educational assistance on an accelerated basis under this subsection. Such regulations shall include requirements relating to the request for, making and delivery of, and receipt and use of such payments and may include a limit on the amount payable for a course under paragraph (5)(B)(ii).’.

SEC. 10. VETERANS EDUCATION AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING BENEFITS PROVIDED BY THE STATES.

    (a) ANNUAL REPORT- (1) Not later than six months after the date of the enactment of this Act, and January 31 of each year thereafter, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Labor, submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and the House of Representatives a report on veterans education and vocational training benefits provided by the States.

    (2) A report under paragraph (1) shall include, for the one-year period ending on the date of the report, the following:

      (A) A description of the assistance in securing post-secondary education and vocational training provided veterans by each State.

      (B) A list of the States which provide veterans full or partial waivers of tuition for attending institutions of higher education that are State-supported.

      (C) A description of the actions taken by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Department of Education, and Department of Labor to encourage the States to provide benefits designed to assist veterans in securing post-secondary education and vocational training.

    (b) SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING STATE VETERANS EDUCATION AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING BENEFITS- (1) Congress makes the following findings:

      (A) The peace and prosperity of the citizens of the States are ensured by the voluntary service of men and women in the Armed Forces.

      (B) Veterans benefit from the military training and discipline and the success-oriented attitude that are inculcated by service in the Armed Forces.

      (C) It is in the social and economic interests of the States to take advantage of the positive personal attributes of veterans which are nurtured through service in the Armed Forces.

      (D) A post-secondary education provides veterans the means to maximize their contribution to the society and economy of the States.

      (E) Some States have recognized that it is in their interest to provide veterans post-secondary education on a tuition-free basis.

    (2) It is the sense of Congress that each of the States should admit qualified veterans to publicly-supported institutions of higher education on a tuition-free basis.

    (c) STATE DEFINED- In this section, the term ‘State’ has the meaning given that term in section 101(20) of title 38, United States Code.

Passed the Senate July 26, 1999.

Attest:

GARY SISCO,

Secretary.