S. 2694 (109th): Veterans’ Choice of Representation and Benefits Enhancement Act of 2006

109th Congress, 2005–2006. Text as of Sep 06, 2006 (Referred to House Committee).

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S 2694 RFH

109th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 2694

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 6, 2006

Referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Financial 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 remove certain limitations on attorney representation of claimants for veterans benefits in administrative proceedings before the Department of Veterans Affairs, to make certain improvements in the area of memorial affairs, 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; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) Short Title- This Act may be cited as the `Veterans' Choice of Representation and Benefits Enhancement Act of 2006'.

    (b) Table of Contents- The table of contents of this Act is as follows:

      Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

TITLE I--VETERANS' REPRESENTATION

      Sec. 101. Attorney representation in veterans benefits cases before the Department of Veterans Affairs.

TITLE II--MEMORIAL AFFAIRS

      Sec. 201. Eligibility of Indian tribal organizations for grants for the establishment of veterans cemeteries on trust lands.

      Sec. 202. Removal of remains of Russell Wayne Wagner from Arlington National Cemetery.

      Sec. 203. Provision of government markers for marked graves of veterans at private cemeteries.

TITLE III--EDUCATION MATTERS

      Sec. 301. Expansion of education programs eligible for accelerated payment of educational assistance under the Montgomery GI bill.

      Sec. 302. Accelerated payment of survivors' and dependents' educational assistance for certain programs of education.

      Sec. 303. Reimbursement of expenses for State approving agencies in the administration of educational benefits.

      Sec. 304. Modification of requirement for reporting on educational assistance program.

TITLE IV--HEALTH MATTERS

      Sec. 401. Parkinson's disease research, education, clinical centers, and multiple sclerosis centers of excellence.

      Sec. 402. Repeal of term of office for the Under Secretary for Health and the Under Secretary for Benefits.

      Sec. 403. Modifications to existing State home authorities.

      Sec. 404. Office of Rural Health.

      Sec. 405. Pilot program on improvement of caregiver assistance services.

TITLE V--HOMELESS VETERANS ASSISTANCE

      Sec. 501. Reaffirmation of national goal to end homelessness among veterans.

      Sec. 502. Sense of Congress on the response of the Federal Government to the needs of homeless veterans.

      Sec. 503. Authority to make grants for comprehensive service programs for homeless veterans.

      Sec. 504. Extension of treatment and rehabilitation for seriously mentally ill and homeless veterans.

      Sec. 505. Extension of authority for transfer of properties obtained through foreclosure of home mortgages.

      Sec. 506. Extension of funding for grant program for homeless veterans with special needs.

      Sec. 507. Extension of funding for homeless veteran service provider technical assistance program.

      Sec. 508. Additional element in annual report on assistance to homeless veterans.

      Sec. 509. Advisory committee on homeless veterans.

      Sec. 510. Rental assistance vouchers for Veterans Affairs supported housing program.

      Sec. 511. Financial assistance for supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing.

TITLE VI--MISCELLANEOUS BENEFITS

      Sec. 601. Residential cooperative housing units.

      Sec. 602. Increase in supplemental insurance for totally disabled veterans.

      Sec. 603. Reauthorization of use of certain information from other agencies.

      Sec. 604. Clarification of correctional facilities covered by certain provisions of law.

TITLE I--VETERANS' REPRESENTATION

SEC. 101. ATTORNEY REPRESENTATION IN VETERANS BENEFITS CASES BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    (a) Qualifications and Standards of Conduct for Individuals Recognized as Agents or Attorneys-

      (1) ADDITIONAL QUALIFICATIONS AND STANDARDS FOR AGENTS AND ATTORNEYS GENERALLY- Subsection (a) of section 5904 of title 38, United States Code, is amended--

        (A) by inserting `(1)' after `(a)';

        (B) by striking the second sentence; and

        (C) by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:

    `(2) The Secretary may prescribe in regulations qualifications and standards of conduct for individuals recognized under this section, including a requirement that, before being recognized, an individual--

      `(A) show that such individual is of good moral character and in good repute, is qualified to render claimants valuable service, and is otherwise competent to assist claimants in presenting claims;

      `(B) has such level of experience and specialized training as the Secretary shall specify; and

      `(C) certifies to the Secretary that the individual has satisfied any qualifications and standards prescribed by the Secretary under this section.

    `(3) The Secretary may prescribe in regulations reasonable restrictions on the amount of fees that an agent or attorney may charge a claimant for services rendered in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of a claim before the Department.

    `(4)(A) The Secretary may, on a periodic basis, collect a registration fee from individuals recognized as agents or attorneys under this section.

    `(B) The Secretary shall prescribe the amount and frequency of collection of such fees. The amount of such fees may include an amount, as specified by the Secretary, necessary to defray the costs to the Department in recognizing individuals under this section, in administering the collection of such fees, in administering the payment of fees under subsection (d), and in conducting oversight of agents or attorneys.

    `(C) Amounts so collected shall be deposited in the account from which amounts for such costs were derived, merged with amounts in such account, and available for the same purpose, and subject to the same conditions and limitations, as amounts in such account.'.

      (2) APPLICABILITY TO REPRESENTATIVES OF VETERANS SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS- Section 5902(b) of such title is amended--

        (A) by redesignating paragraphs (1) and (2) as subparagraphs (A) and (B), respectively;

        (B) by inserting `(1)' after `(b)'; and

        (C) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

    `(2) An individual recognized under this section shall be subject to the provisions of section 5904(b) of this title on the same basis as an individual recognized under section 5904(a) of this title.'.

      (3) APPLICABILITY TO INDIVIDUALS RECOGNIZED FOR PARTICULAR CLAIMS- Section 5903 of such title is amended--

        (A) by inserting `(a) In General- ' before `The Secretary'; and

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

    `(b) Suspension- An individual recognized under this section shall be subject to the provisions of section 5904(b) of this title on the same basis as an individual recognized under section 5904(a) of this title.'.

    (b) Additional Bases for Suspension of Individuals- Subsection (b) of section 5904 of such title is amended--

      (1) in paragraph (4), by striking `or' at the end;

      (2) in paragraph (5), by striking the period and inserting a semicolon; and

      (3) by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:

      `(6) has presented frivolous claims, issues, or arguments to the Department; or

      `(7) has failed to comply with any other condition specified by the Secretary in regulations prescribed by the Secretary for purposes of this subsection.'.

    (c) Repeal of Limitation on Hiring Agents or Attorneys- Subsection (c) of section 5904 of such title is amended by striking paragraph (1).

    (d) Modification of Requirements To File Attorney Fee Agreements- Such subsection is further amended--

      (1) by redesignating paragraph (2) as paragraph (1); and

      (2) in that paragraph, as so redesignated--

        (A) by striking `in a case referred to in paragraph (1) of this subsection';

        (B) by striking `after the Board first makes a final decision in the case';

        (C) by striking `with the Board at such time as may be specified by the Board' and inserting `with the Secretary pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Secretary'; and

        (D) by striking the second and third sentences.

    (e) Attorney Fees- Such subsection is further amended by inserting after paragraph (1), as redesignated by subsection (d)(1) of this section, the following new paragraph (2):

    `(2)(A) The Secretary, upon the Secretary's own motion or at the request of the claimant, may review a fee agreement filed pursuant to paragraph (1) and may order a reduction in the fee called for in the agreement if the Secretary finds that the fee is excessive or unreasonable.

    `(B) A finding or order of the Secretary under subparagraph (A) may be reviewed by the Board of Veterans' Appeals under section 7104 of this title.'.

    (f) Repeal of Penalty for Certain Acts- Section 5905 of such title is amended by striking `(1)' and all that follows through `(2)'.

    (g) Effective Date-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The amendments made by this section shall take effect six months after the date of the enactment of this Act.

      (2) REGULATIONS- The Secretary shall prescribe the regulations, if any, to be prescribed under the amendments made by subsection (a) not later than the date specified in paragraph (1).

      (3) CLAIMS- The amendments made by subsections (b), (c), (d), and (e) shall apply to claims submitted on or after the date specified in paragraph (1).

TITLE II--MEMORIAL AFFAIRS

SEC. 201. ELIGIBILITY OF INDIAN TRIBAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR GRANTS FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF VETERANS CEMETERIES ON TRUST LANDS.

    Section 2408 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

    `(f)(1) The Secretary may make grants under this subsection to any tribal organization to assist the tribal organization in establishing, expanding, or improving veterans' cemeteries on trust land owned by, or held in trust for, the tribal organization.

    `(2) Grants under this subsection shall be made in the same manner, and under the same conditions, as grants to States are made under the preceding provisions of this section.

    `(3) In this subsection:

      `(A) The term `tribal organization' has the meaning given that term in section 3765(4) of this title.

      `(B) The term `trust land' has the meaning given that term in section 3765(1) of this title.'.

SEC. 202. REMOVAL OF REMAINS OF RUSSELL WAYNE WAGNER FROM ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY.

    (a) Findings- Congress makes the following findings:

      (1) Arlington National Cemetery is a National Shrine that memorializes the honorable service of men and women who have defended the freedoms that all the people of the United States enjoy.

      (2) The inclusion among the honored dead of the remains of persons who have committed particularly notorious, heinous acts brings dishonor to the deceased and disrespect to their loved ones.

      (3) The removal of the remains of a person who has committed a heinous act would not be an act of punishment against that person, but rather an act that would preserve the sacredness of cemetery grounds.

      (4) In November of 1997, section 2411 of title 38, United States Code, was enacted to, among other things, deny burial eligibility in Arlington National Cemetery to any person convicted of a State capital crime for which the person was sentenced to death or life imprisonment without parole. In January of 2006, section 2411 of such title was amended by section 662 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (Public Law 109-163) to remove parole eligibility as a loophole through which convicted capital offenders could retain eligibility for interment at Arlington National Cemetery.

      (5) According to Arlington National Cemetery officials, the remains of only one capital offender, Russell Wayne Wagner, have been interred in Arlington National Cemetery since November of 1997.

    (b) Removal of Remains-

      (1) REMOVAL- The Secretary of the Army shall remove the remains of Russell Wayne Wagner from Arlington National Cemetery.

      (2) NOTIFICATION OF NEXT-OF-KIN- The Secretary of the Army shall--

        (A) notify the next-of-kin of record for Russell Wayne Wagner of the impending removal of his remains; and

        (B) upon removal, relinquish the remains to the next-of-kin of record for Russell Wayne Wagner or, if the next-of-kin of record for Russell Wayne Wagner is unavailable, arrange for an appropriate disposition of the remains.

SEC. 203. PROVISION OF GOVERNMENT MARKERS FOR MARKED GRAVES OF VETERANS AT PRIVATE CEMETERIES.

    (a) In General- Section 502(d) of the Veterans Education and Benefits Expansion Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-103; 38 U.S.C. 2306 note), as amended by section 203 of the Veterans Benefits Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-330), is amended by striking `September 11, 2001' and inserting `November 1, 1990'.

    (b) Repeal of Expiration of Authority- Subsection (d) of section 2306 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking paragraph (3).

    (c) Provision of Headstone or Marker-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Subsection (d) of such section 2306 is further amended--

        (A) in paragraph (1)--

          (i) in the first sentence, by striking `Government marker' and inserting `Government headstone or marker'; and

          (ii) in the second sentence, by inserting `headstone or' before `marker' each place it appears; and

        (B) in paragraph (2), by inserting `headstone or' before `marker'.

      (2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Subsection (g)(3) of such section 2306 is amended by inserting `headstone or' before `marker'.

    (d) Placement of Headstone or Marker- The second sentence of subsection (d)(1) of such section 2306, as amended by subsection (c)(1)(A)(ii) of this section, is further amended by inserting before the period the following: `, or, if placement on the grave is impossible or impracticable, as close as possible to the grave within the grounds of the cemetery in which the grave is located'.

    (e) Delivery of Headstone or Marker- Subsection (d)(2) of such section 2306, as amended by subsection (c)(1)(B) of this section, is further amended by inserting before the period the following: `or to a receiving agent for delivery to the cemetery'.

    (f) Repeal of Obsolete Report Requirement- Subsection (d) of such section 2306 is further amended by striking paragraph (4).

    (g) Scope of Headstones and Markers Furnished- Subsection (d) of such section 2306 is further amended by inserting after paragraph (2) the following new paragraph (3):

    `(3) In furnishing headstones and markers under this subsection, the Secretary shall permit the individual making the request for a headstone or marker to select among any headstone or marker in the complete product line of Government headstones and markers.'.

    (h) Retroactive Effective Date- The amendments made by subsections (a) through (g) shall take effect as if included in the enactment of section 502 of the Veterans Education and Benefits Expansion Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-103; 115 Stat. 976).

TITLE III--EDUCATION MATTERS

SEC. 301. EXPANSION OF EDUCATION PROGRAMS ELIGIBLE FOR ACCELERATED PAYMENT OF EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE UNDER THE MONTGOMERY GI BILL.

    (a) In General- Subsection (b) of section 3014A of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking paragraph (1) and inserting the following new paragraph (1):

      `(1) enrolled in either--

        `(A) an approved program of education that leads to employment in a high technology occupation in a high technology industry (as determined pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Secretary); or

        `(B) an approved program of education lasting less than two years that (as so determined) leads to employment in--

          `(i) the transportation sector of the economy;

          `(ii) the construction sector of the economy;

          `(iii) the hospitality sector of the economy; or

          `(iv) the energy sector of the economy.'.

    (b) Conforming Amendments-

      (1) HEADING AMENDMENT- The heading of such section is amended to read as follows:

`Sec. 3014A. Accelerated payment of basic educational assistance'.

      (2) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The item relating to such section in the table of sections at the beginning of chapter 30 of such title is amended to read as follows:

      `3014A. Accelerated payment of basic educational assistance.'.

    (c) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall take effect on October 1, 2007. Such amendments shall only apply to enrollments that begin on or after such date.

    (d) Sunset- The amendments made by this section shall expire on September 30, 2011.

SEC. 302. ACCELERATED PAYMENT OF SURVIVORS' AND DEPENDENTS' EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE FOR CERTAIN PROGRAMS OF EDUCATION.

    (a) In General- Subchapter IV of chapter 35 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 3532 the following new section:

`Sec. 3532A. Accelerated payment of educational assistance allowance

    `(a) The educational assistance allowance payable under section 3531 of this title with respect to an eligible person described in subsection (b) may, upon the election of such eligible person, be paid on an accelerated basis in accordance with this section.

    `(b) An eligible person described in this subsection is an individual who is--

      `(1) enrolled in either--

        `(A) an approved program of education that leads to employment in a high technology occupation in a high technology industry (as determined pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Secretary); or

        `(B) an approved program of education lasting less than two years that (as so determined) leads to employment in the--

          `(i) transportation sector of the economy;

          `(ii) construction sector of the economy;

          `(iii) hospitality sector of the economy; or

          `(iv) energy sector of the economy; and

      `(2) charged tuition and fees for the program of education that, when divided by the number of months (and fractions thereof) in the enrollment period, exceeds the amount equal to 200 percent of the monthly rate of educational assistance allowance otherwise payable with respect to the individual under section 3531 of this title.

    `(c)(1) The amount of the accelerated payment of educational assistance payable with respect to an eligible person making an election under subsection (a) for a program of education shall be the lesser of--

      `(A) the amount equal to 60 percent of the established charges for the program of education; or

      `(B) the aggregate amount of educational assistance allowance to which the individual remains entitled under this chapter at the time of the payment.

    `(2) In this subsection, the term `established charges', in the case of a program of education, means the actual charges (as determined pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Secretary) for tuition and fees which similarly circumstanced nonveterans enrolled in the program of education would be required to pay. Established charges shall be determined on the following basis:

      `(A) In the case of an individual enrolled in a program of education offered on a term, quarter, or semester basis, the tuition and fees charged the individual for the term, quarter, or semester.

      `(B) In the case of an individual enrolled in a program of education not offered on a term, quarter, or semester basis, the tuition and fees charged the individual for the entire program of education.

    `(3) The educational institution providing the program of education for which an accelerated payment of educational assistance allowance is elected by an eligible person under subsection (a) shall certify to the Secretary the amount of the established charges for the program of education.

    `(d) An accelerated payment of educational assistance allowance made with respect to an eligible person under this section for a program of education shall be made not later than the last day of the month immediately following the month in which the Secretary receives a certification from the educational institution regarding--

      `(1) the person's enrollment in and pursuit of the program of education; and

      `(2) the amount of the established charges for the program of education.

    `(e)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), for each accelerated payment of educational assistance allowance made with respect to an eligible person under this section, the person's entitlement to educational assistance under this chapter shall be charged the number of months (and any fraction thereof) determined by dividing the amount of the accelerated payment by the full-time monthly rate of educational assistance allowance otherwise payable with respect to the person under section 3531 of this title as of the beginning date of the enrollment period for the program of education for which the accelerated payment is made.

    `(2) If the monthly rate of educational assistance allowance otherwise payable with respect to an eligible person under section 3531 of this title increases during the enrollment period of a program of education for which an accelerated payment of educational assistance allowance is made under this section, the charge to the person's entitlement to educational assistance under this chapter shall be determined by prorating the entitlement chargeable, in the manner provided for under paragraph (1), for the periods covered by the initial rate and increased rate, respectively, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary.

    `(f) The Secretary may not make an accelerated payment of educational assistance allowance under this section for a program of education with respect to an eligible person who has received an advance payment under section 3680(d) of this title for the same enrollment period.

    `(g) The Secretary shall prescribe regulations to carry out this section. The regulations shall include requirements, conditions, and methods for the request, issuance, delivery, certification of receipt and use, and recovery of overpayment of an accelerated payment of educational assistance allowance under this section. The regulations may include such elements of the regulations prescribed under section 3014A of this title as the Secretary considers appropriate for purposes of this section.'.

    (b) Clerical Amendment- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 35 of such title is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 3532 the following new item:

      `3532A. Accelerated payment of educational assistance allowance.'.

    (c) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall take effect on October 1, 2007. Such amendments shall only apply to enrollments that begin on or after such date.

    (d) Sunset- The amendments made by this section shall expire on September 30, 2011.

SEC. 303. REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES FOR STATE APPROVING AGENCIES IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS.

    Section 3674(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--

      (1) in paragraph (2)(A), by inserting `and is authorized to make additional payments subject to the availability of appropriations,' after `readjustment benefits,'; and

      (2) in paragraph (4), by striking the first sentence and inserting `The total amount authorized and available under this section for any fiscal year may not exceed $19,000,000, except that the total amount made available for purposes of this section from amounts available for the payment of readjustment benefits may not exceed $19,000,000 for fiscal years 2006 and 2007, $13,000,000 for fiscal years 2008 and 2009, $8,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2013, and $13,000,000 for fiscal year 2014 and each subsequent fiscal year.'.

SEC. 304. MODIFICATION OF REQUIREMENT FOR REPORTING ON EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM.

    (a) Extension- Subsection (d) of section 3036 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking `January 1, 2005' and inserting `January 1, 2011'.

    (b) Date of Submittal- Subsection (a) of such section is amended by inserting `, on January 1,' after `two years'.

    (c) Interim Report- The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall each submit to Congress a report containing the information required by section 3036 of title 38, United States Code, not later than six months after the date of the enactment of this Act.

TITLE IV--HEALTH MATTERS

SEC. 401. PARKINSON'S DISEASE RESEARCH, EDUCATION, CLINICAL CENTERS, AND MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE.

    (a) Requirement for Establishment of Centers-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Subchapter II of chapter 73 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

`Sec. 7329. Parkinson's disease research, education, and clinical centers and multiple sclerosis centers of excellence

    `(a) Designation- The Secretary, upon the recommendation of the Under Secretary for Health and pursuant to the provisions of this section, shall--

      `(1) designate--

        `(A) at least 6 Department health care facilities as the locations for centers of Parkinson's disease research, education, and clinical activities and (subject to the appropriation of sufficient funds for such purpose); and

        `(B) at least 2 Department health care facilities as the locations for Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence (subject to the appropriation of sufficient funds for such purpose); and

      `(2) establish and operate such centers at such locations in accordance with this section.

    `(b) Existing Facilities; Geographic Distribution- In designating locations for centers under subsection (a), the Secretary, upon the recommendation of the Under Secretary for Health, shall--

      `(1) designate each Department health care facility that, as of January 1, 2005, was operating a Parkinson's Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Center or a Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence unless the Secretary, on the recommendation of the Under Secretary for Health, determines that such facility--

        `(A) does not meet the requirements of subsection (c);

        `(B) has not demonstrated effectiveness in carrying out the established purposes of such center; or

        `(C) has not demonstrated the potential to carry out such purposes effectively in the reasonably foreseeable future; and

      `(2) assure appropriate geographic distribution of such facilities.

    `(c) Minimum Requirements- The Secretary may not designate a health care facility as a location for a center under subsection (a) unless--

      `(1) the peer review panel established under subsection (d) determines that the proposal submitted by such facility is among those proposals which meet the highest competitive standards of scientific and clinical merit; and

      `(2) the Secretary, upon the recommendation of the Under Secretary for Health, determines that the facility has (or may reasonably be anticipated to develop)--

        `(A) an arrangement with an accredited medical school which provides education and training in neurology and with which such facility is affiliated under which residents receive education and training in innovative diagnosis and treatment of chronic neurodegenerative diseases and movement disorders, including Parkinson's disease, or in the case of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, multiple sclerosis disease;

        `(B) the ability to attract the participation of scientists who are capable of ingenuity and creativity in health-care research efforts;

        `(C) a policymaking advisory committee composed of consumers and appropriate health care and research representatives of the facility and of the affiliated school or schools to advise the directors of such facility and such center on policy matters pertaining to the activities of such center during the period of the operation of such center;

        `(D) the capability to conduct effectively evaluations of the activities of such center;

        `(E) the capability to coordinate, as part of an integrated national system, education, clinical, and research activities within all facilities with such centers;

        `(F) the capability to jointly develop a consortium of providers with interest in treating neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease, and other movement disorders, or multiple sclerosis in the case of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, at facilities without such centers in order to ensure better access to state of the art diagnosis, care, and education for neurodegenerative disorders, or in the case of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system throughout the health care system; and

        `(G) the capability to develop a national repository in the health care system for the collection of data on health services delivered to veterans seeking care for neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease, and other movement disorders, or in the case of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system.

    `(d) Panel- (1) The Under Secretary for Health shall establish a panel to assess the scientific and clinical merit of proposals that are submitted to the Secretary for the establishment of new centers under this section.

    `(2)(A) The membership of the panel shall consist of experts in neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders, and, in the case of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, experts in autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system.

    `(B) Members of the panel shall serve as consultants to the Department for a period of no longer than 2 years except in the case of panelists asked to serve on the initial panel as specified in subparagraph (C).

    `(C) In order to ensure panel continuity, half of the members of the first panel shall be appointed for a period of 3 years and half for a period of 2 years.

    `(3) The panel shall review each proposal submitted to the panel by the Under Secretary and shall submit its views on the relative scientific and clinical merit of each such proposal to the Under Secretary.

    `(4) The panel shall not be subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

    `(e) Adequate Funding- Before providing funds for the operation of any such center at a health care facility other than a health care facility designated under subsection (b)(1), the Secretary shall ensure that--

      `(1) the Parkinson's disease center at each facility designated under subsection (b)(1) is receiving adequate funding to enable such center to function effectively in the areas of Parkinson's disease research, education, and clinical activities; and

      `(2) in the case of a new Multiple Sclerosis Center, that existing centers are receiving adequate funding to enable such centers to function effectively in the areas of multiple sclerosis research, education, and clinical activities.

    `(f) Authorization of Appropriations- (1) There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary for the support of the research and education activities of the centers established under subsection (a).

    `(2) The Under Secretary for Health shall allocate to such centers from other funds appropriated generally for the Department medical services account and medical and prosthetics research account, as appropriate, such amounts as the Under Secretary for Health determines appropriate.

    `(g) Funding Eligibility and Priority for Parkinson's Disease Research- Activities of clinical and scientific investigation at each center established under subsection (a) for Parkinson's disease shall--

      `(1) be eligible to compete for the award of funding from funds appropriated for the Department medical and prosthetics research account; and

      `(2) receive priority in the award of funding from such account to the extent funds are awarded to projects for research in Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders.

    `(h) Funding Eligibility and Priority for Multiple Sclerosis Research- Activities of clinical and scientific investigation at each center established under subsection (a) for multiple sclerosis shall--

      `(1) be eligible to compete for the award of funding from funds appropriated for the Department medical and prosthetics research account; and

      `(2) receive priority in the award of funding from such account to the extent funds are awarded to projects for research in multiple sclerosis and other movement disorders.'.

      (2) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 73 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 7328 the following new item:

      `7329. Parkinson's disease research, education, and clinical centers and multiple sclerosis centers of excellence.'.

    (b) Effective Date- The amendments made by subsection (a) shall take effect on October 1, 2006.

SEC. 402. REPEAL OF TERM OF OFFICE FOR THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR BENEFITS.

    (a) Under Secretary for Health-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Section 305 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking subsection (c).

      (2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Subsection (d) of such section is redesignated as subsection (c).

    (b) Under Secretary for Benefits-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Section 306 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking subsection (c).

      (2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Subsection (d) of such section is redesignated as subsection (c).

SEC. 403. MODIFICATIONS TO EXISTING STATE HOME AUTHORITIES.

    (a) Nursing Home Care and Prescription Medications in State Homes for Veterans With Service-Connected Disabilities-

      (1) NURSING HOME CARE- Subchapter V of chapter 17 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

`Sec. 1745. Nursing home care and medications for veterans with service-connected disabilities

    `(a)(1) The Secretary shall pay each State home for nursing home care at the rate determined under paragraph (2), where such care is provided to any veteran as follows:

      `(A) Any veteran in need of such care for a service-connected disability.

      `(B) Any veteran who--

        `(i) has a service-connected disability rated at 70 percent or more; and

        `(ii) is in need of such care.

    `(2) The rate determined under this paragraph with respect to a State home is the lesser of--

      `(A) the applicable or prevailing rate payable in the geographic area in which the State home is located, as determined by the Secretary, for nursing home care furnished in a non-Department nursing home (as that term is defined in section 1720(e)(2)); or

      `(B) a rate not to exceed the daily cost of care, as determined by the Secretary, following a report to the Secretary by the director of the State home.

    `(3) Payment by the Secretary under paragraph (1) to a State home for nursing home care provided to a veteran described in that paragraph constitutes payment in full to the State home for such care furnished to that veteran.'.

      (2) PROVISION OF PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES- Such section, as so added, is further amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

    `(b) The Secretary shall furnish such drugs and medicines as may be ordered on prescription of a duly licensed physician as specific therapy in the treatment of illness or injury to any veteran as follows:

      `(1) Any veteran who--

        `(A) is not being provided nursing home care for which payment is payable under subsection (a); and

        `(B) is in need of such drugs and medicines for a service-connected disability.

      `(2) Any veteran who--

        `(A) has a service-connected disability rated at 50 percent or more;

        `(B) is not being provided nursing home care for which payment is payable under subsection (a); and

        `(C) is in need of such drugs and medicines.'.

      (3) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS-

        (A) CRITERIA FOR PAYMENT- Section 1741(a)(1) of such title is amended by striking `The' and inserting `Except as provided in section 1745 of this title, the'.

        (B) ELIGIBILITY FOR NURSING HOME CARE- Section 1710(a)(4) of such title is amended--

          (i) by striking `and' before `the requirement in section 1710B of this title'; and

          (ii) by inserting `, and the requirement in section 1745 of this title to provide nursing home care and prescription medicines to veterans with service-connected disabilities in State homes' after `a program of extended care services'.

      (4) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 17 of such title is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 1744 the following new item:

      `1745. Nursing home care and medications for veterans with service-connected disabilities.'.

      (5) EFFECTIVE DATE- The amendments made by this subsection shall take effect 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

    (b) Identification of Veterans in State Homes- Such chapter is further amended--

      (1) in section 1745, as added by subsection (a)(1) of this section, by adding at the end the following new subsection:

    `(c) Any State home that requests payment or reimbursement for services provided to a veteran under this section shall provide to the Secretary such information as the Secretary considers necessary to identify each individual veteran eligible for payment under such section.'; and

      (2) in section 1741, by adding at the end the following new subsection:

    `(f) Any State home that requests payment or reimbursement for services provided to a veteran under this section shall provide to the Secretary such information as the Secretary considers necessary to identify each individual veteran eligible for payment under such section.'.

    (c) Authority To Treat Certain Health Facilities as State Homes-

      (1) AUTHORITY- Subchapter III of chapter 81 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

`Sec. 8138. Treatment of certain health facilities as State homes

    `(a) The Secretary may treat a health facility, or certain beds in a health facility, as a State home for purposes of subchapter V of chapter 17 of this title if the following requirements are met:

      `(1) The facility, or certain beds in such facility, meets the standards for the provision of nursing home care that is applicable to State homes, as prescribed by the Secretary under section 8134(b) of this title, and such other standards relating to the facility, or certain beds in such facility, as the Secretary may require.

      `(2) The facility, or certain beds in such facility, is licensed or certified by the appropriate State and local agencies charged with the responsibility of licensing or otherwise regulating or inspecting State home facilities.

      `(3) The State demonstrates in an application to the Secretary that, but for the treatment of a facility (or certain beds in such facility), as a State home under this subsection, a substantial number of veterans residing in the geographic area in which the facility is located who require nursing home care will not have access to such care.

      `(4) The Secretary determines that the treatment of the facility, or certain beds in such facility, as a State home best meets the needs of veterans for nursing home care in the geographic area in which the facility is located.

      `(5) The Secretary approves the application submitted by the State with respect to the facility, or certain beds in such facility.

    `(b) The Secretary may not treat a health facility, or certain beds in a health facility, as a State home under subsection (a) if the Secretary determines that such treatment would increase the number of beds allocated to the State in excess of the limit on the number of beds provided for by regulations prescribed under section 8134(a) of this title.

    `(c) The number of beds occupied by veterans in a health facility for which payment may be made under subchapter V of chapter 17 of this title by reason of subsection (a) shall not exceed--

      `(1) 100 beds in the aggregate for all States; and

      `(2) in the case of any State, the difference between--

        `(A) the number of veterans authorized to be in beds in State homes in such State under regulations prescribed under section 8134(a) of this title; and

        `(B) the number of veterans actually in beds in State homes (other than facilities or certain beds treated as State homes under subsection (a)) in such State under regulations prescribed under such section.

    `(d) The number of beds in a health facility in a State that has been treated as a State home under subsection (a) shall be taken into account in determining the unmet need for beds for State homes for the State under section 8134(d)(1) of this title.

    `(e) The Secretary may not treat any new health facilities, or any new certain beds in a health facility, as a State home under subsection (a) after September 30, 2009.'.

      (2) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 81 of such title is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 8137 the following new item:

      `8138. Treatment of certain health facilities as State homes.'.

SEC. 404. OFFICE OF RURAL HEALTH.

    (a) Establishment- There is established in the Department of Veterans Affairs within the Office of the Undersecretary for Health an office to be known as the `Office of Rural Health' (in this section referred to as the `Office').

    (b) Head- The Director of the Office of Rural Health shall be the head of the Office. The Director of the Office of Rural Health shall be appointed by the Under Secretary of Health from among individuals qualified to perform the duties of the position.

    (c) Functions- The functions of the Office are as follows:

      (1) In cooperation with the medical, rehabilitation, health services, and cooperative studies research programs in the Office of Policy and the Office of Research and Development of the Veterans Health Administration, to assist the Under Secretary for Health in conducting, coordinating, promoting, and disseminating research into issues affecting veterans living in rural areas.

      (2) To work with all personnel and offices of the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop, refine, and promulgate policies, best practices, lessons learned, and innovative and successful programs to improve care and services for veterans who reside in rural areas of the United States.

      (3) To designate in each Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) an individual who shall consult on and coordinate the discharge in such Network of programs and activities of the Office for veterans who reside in rural areas of the United States.

      (4) To assess, in accordance with subsection (d), the effects of the implementation of the fee-basis health care program of the Veterans Health Administration on the delivery of health care services to veterans who reside in rural areas of the United States.

      (5) To perform such other functions and duties as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs or the Under Secretary for Health consider appropriate.

    (d) Assessment of Fee-Basis Health Care Program- The Director of the Office shall, in consultation with the individuals designated under subsection (c)(3), conduct an assessment of the effects of the implementation of the fee-basis health care program of the Veterans Health Administration on the delivery of health care services to veterans who reside in rural areas of the United States. In conducting the assessment, the Director shall--

      (1) evaluate the effects of the fee-basis health care program on the delivery of health care services to veterans who reside in rural areas of the United States;

      (2) identify various mechanisms for expanding the program in order to enhance and improve health care services for such veterans and determine the feasibility and advisability of implementing such mechanisms; and

      (3) for each mechanism determined under paragraph (2) to be feasible and advisable to implement, make recommendations to the Under Secretary for Health on the implementation of such mechanism.

SEC. 405. PILOT PROGRAM ON IMPROVEMENT OF CAREGIVER ASSISTANCE SERVICES.

    (a) In General- Commencing not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall carry out a pilot program to assess the feasibility and advisability of various mechanisms to expand and improve caregiver assistance services.

    (b) Duration of Pilot Program- The pilot program required by subsection (a) shall be carried out during the two-year period beginning on the date of the commencement of the pilot program.

    (c) Caregiver Assistance Services- For purposes of this section, the term `caregiver assistance services' are services of the Department of Veterans Affairs that assist caregivers of veterans, including veterans of the Global War on Terrorism. Such services including the following:

      (1) Adult-day health care services.

      (2) Coordination of services needed by veterans, including services for readjustment and rehabilitation.

      (3) Transportation services.

      (4) Caregiver support services, including education, training, and certification of family members in caregiver activities.

      (5) Home care services.

      (6) Respite care.

      (7) Hospice services.

      (8) Any modalities of non-institutional long-term care.

    (d) Funding-

      (1) SOURCE OF FUNDS- In carrying out the program required by subsection (a), the Secretary shall identify, from funds available to the Department of Veterans Affairs for medical care, an amount not less than $5,000,000 to be available for the fiscal year that includes the date of the enactment of this Act, to carry out the pilot program and to be allocated to facilities of the Department pursuant to subsection (e). Such amount shall be available without fiscal year limitation.

      (2) MINIMUM ALLOCATION OF FUNDS- In identifying available amounts pursuant to paragraph (1), the Secretary shall ensure that, after the allocation of funds under subsection (e), the total expenditure for programs in support of caregiver assistance services is not less than $5,000,000 in excess of the baseline amount.

      (3) BASELINE AMOUNT- For purposes of paragraph (2), the baseline amount is the amount of the total expenditures on programs in support of caregiver assistance services for veterans for the most recent fiscal year for which final expenditure amounts are known, adjusted to reflect any subsequent increase in applicable costs to support such services through the Veterans Health Administration.

    (e) Allocation of Funds to Facilities- The Secretary shall allocate funds identified pursuant to subsection (d)(1) to individual medical facilities of the Department in such amounts as the Secretary determines appropriate, based upon proposals submitted by such facilities for the use of such funds for improvements to the support of the provision of caregiver assistance services. Special consideration should be given to rural facilities, including those without a long-term care facility of the Department.

    (f) Report- Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the implementation of this section, including--

      (1) a description and assessment of the activities carried out under the pilot program;

      (2) information on the allocation of funds to facilities of the Department under subsection (d); and

      (3) a description of the improvements made with funds so allocated to the support of the provision of caregiver assistance services.

TITLE V--HOMELESS VETERANS ASSISTANCE

SEC. 501. REAFFIRMATION OF NATIONAL GOAL TO END HOMELESSNESS AMONG VETERANS.

    (a) Reaffirmation- Congress reaffirms the national goal to end chronic homelessness among veterans within a decade of the enactment of the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-95; 115 Stat. 903).

    (b) Reaffirmation of Encouragement of Cooperative Efforts- Congress reaffirms its encouragement, as specified in the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-95; 115 Stat. 903), that all departments and agencies of the Federal, State, and local governments, quasi-governmental organizations, private and public sector entities, including community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and individuals, work cooperatively to end chronic homelessness among veterans.

SEC. 502. SENSE OF CONGRESS ON THE RESPONSE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO THE NEEDS OF HOMELESS VETERANS.

    It is the sense of Congress that--

      (1) homelessness is a significant problem in the veterans community, and veterans are disproportionately represented among the homeless population;

      (2) while many effective programs assist homeless veterans to become, once again, productive and self-sufficient members of their communities and society, all the essential services, assistance, and support that homeless veterans require are not currently provided;

      (3) federally funded programs for homeless veterans should be held accountable for achieving clearly defined results;

      (4) Federal efforts to assist homeless veterans should include prevention of homelessness;

      (5) Federal efforts regarding homeless veterans should be particularly vigorous where women veterans have minor children in their care;

      (6) Federal agencies, particularly the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, should cooperate more fully to address the problem of homelessness among veterans; and

      (7) the programs reauthorized by this title provide important housing and services to homeless veterans.

SEC. 503. AUTHORITY TO MAKE GRANTS FOR COMPREHENSIVE SERVICE PROGRAMS FOR HOMELESS VETERANS.

    (a) Permanent Authority- Section 2011(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--

      (1) by striking paragraph (2); and

      (2) in paragraph (1)--

        (A) by striking `(1)'; and

        (B) by redesignating subparagraphs (A) through (D) as paragraphs (1) through (4), respectively.

    (b) Authorization of Appropriations- The text of section 2013 of such title is amended to read as follows: `There is authorized to be appropriated, to carry out this subchapter, $130,000,000 for fiscal year 2007 and each fiscal year thereafter.'.

SEC. 504. EXTENSION OF TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION FOR SERIOUSLY MENTALLY ILL AND HOMELESS VETERANS.

    (a) Extension of Authority for General Treatment- Section 2031(b) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking `2006' and inserting `2011'.

    (b) Extension of Authority for Additional Services- Section 2033(d) of such title is amended by striking `2006' and inserting `2011'.

SEC. 505. EXTENSION OF AUTHORITY FOR TRANSFER OF PROPERTIES OBTAINED THROUGH FORECLOSURE OF HOME MORTGAGES.

    Section 2041(c) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking `2008' and inserting `2011'.

SEC. 506. EXTENSION OF FUNDING FOR GRANT PROGRAM FOR HOMELESS VETERANS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS.

    Section 2061(c)(1) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking `2003, 2004, and 2005, $5,000,000' and inserting `2007 through 2011, $7,000,000'.

SEC. 507. EXTENSION OF FUNDING FOR HOMELESS VETERAN SERVICE PROVIDER TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM.

    Subsection (b) of section 2064 of title 38, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

    `(b) Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated $1,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2007 through 2012 to carry out the program under this section.'.

SEC. 508. ADDITIONAL ELEMENT IN ANNUAL REPORT ON ASSISTANCE TO HOMELESS VETERANS.

    Section 2065(b) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--

      (1) by redesignating paragraph (5) as paragraph (6); and

      (2) by inserting after paragraph (4) the following new paragraph (5):

      `(5) Information on the efforts of the Secretary to coordinate the delivery of housing and services to homeless veterans with other Federal departments and agencies, including--

        `(A) the Department of Defense;

        `(B) the Department of Health and Human Services;

        `(C) the Department of Housing and Urban Development;

        `(D) the Department of Justice;

        `(E) the Department of Labor;

        `(F) the Interagency Council on Homelessness;

        `(G) the Social Security Administration; and

        `(H) any other Federal department or agency with which the Secretary coordinates the delivery of housing and services to homeless veterans.'.

SEC. 509. ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON HOMELESS VETERANS.

    (a) Additional Ex Officio Members- Subsection (a)(3) of section 2066 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraphs:

      `(E) The Executive Director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness (or a representative of the Executive Director).

      `(F) The Under Secretary for Health (or a representative of the Under Secretary after consultation with the Director of the Office of Homeless Veterans Programs).

      `(G) The Under Secretary for Benefits (or a representative of the Under Secretary after consultation with the Director of the Office of Homeless Veterans Programs).'.

    (b) Extension- Subsection (d) of such section is amended by striking `December 31, 2006' and inserting `September 30, 2011'.

SEC. 510. RENTAL ASSISTANCE VOUCHERS FOR VETERANS AFFAIRS SUPPORTED HOUSING PROGRAM.

    (a) Funding for Vouchers- Section (8)(o)(19)(B) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437f(o)(19)(B)) is amended to read as follows:

        `(B) AMOUNT- The amount specified in this subparagraph is--

          `(i) for fiscal year 2007, the amount necessary to provide 500 vouchers for rental assistance under this subsection;

          `(ii) for fiscal year 2008, the amount necessary to provide 1,000 vouchers for rental assistance under this subsection;

          `(iii) for fiscal year 2009, the amount necessary to provide 1,500 vouchers for rental assistance under this subsection;

          `(iv) for fiscal year 2010, the amount necessary to provide 2,000 vouchers for rental assistance under this subsection; and

          `(v) for fiscal year 2011, the amount necessary to provide 2,500 vouchers for rental assistance under this subsection.'.

    (b) Elimination of Funding Through Incremental Assistance- Subparagraph (C) of section 8(o)(19) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437f(o)(19)(C)) is repealed.

    (c) Study of Effectiveness of Vouchers-

      (1) IN GENERAL- For fiscal years 2007 and 2008, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall conduct a study of the effectiveness of the voucher program under section (8)(o)(19)(B) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437f(o)(19)(B)), as amended by subsection (a), in meeting the housing and case management needs of homeless veterans who--

        (A) have a chronic mental illnesses or chronic substance use disorder; and

        (B) are participating in continuing treatment for such mental illness or substance use disorder as a condition of receipt of such rental assistance.

      (2) COMPARISON- As part of the study required by paragraph (1) the Secretary shall compare the results of the program described in that paragraph with other programs as follows:

        (A) Programs in which the Department of Veterans Affairs coordinates the delivery of housing and services to homeless veterans.

        (B) Programs for the provision of grants or per diem payments to providers of services that are designed to meet the needs of homeless veterans.

      (3) CRITERIA- In conducting the comparison required by paragraph (2), the Secretary shall examine the following:

        (A) The satisfaction of veterans targeted by the programs described in paragraph (2).

        (B) The health status of such veterans.

        (C) For programs that address substance use disorders, the reduction in severity of such disorders in such veterans.

        (D) The housing provided such veterans under such programs.

        (E) The degree to which such veterans are encouraged to productive activity by such programs.

      (4) REPORT- Not later than March 31, 2009, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the results of the study required by paragraph (1).

SEC. 511. FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR VERY LOW-INCOME VETERAN FAMILIES IN PERMANENT HOUSING.

    (a) Purpose- The purpose of this section is to facilitate the provision of supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing.

    (b) Financial Assistance-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Subchapter V of chapter 20 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

`Sec. 2044. Financial assistance for supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing

    `(a) Distribution of Financial Assistance- (1) The Secretary shall provide financial assistance to eligible entities approved under this section to provide and coordinate the provision of supportive services described in subsection (b) for very low-income veteran families occupying permanent housing.

    `(2) Financial assistance under this section shall consist of per diem payments for each such family for which an approved eligible entity is providing or coordinating the provision of supportive services.

    `(3)(A) Subject to the availability of appropriations provided for such purpose, the Secretary shall provide to each family for which an approved eligible entity is providing or coordinating the provision of supportive services per diem payments in the amount of the daily cost of care estimated by such eligible entity (as adjusted by the Secretary under subparagraph (C)).

    `(B) In no case may the amount of per diem paid under this paragraph exceed the rate of per diem authorized for State homes for domiciliary care under subsection (a)(1)(A) of section 1741 of this title, as adjusted by the Secretary under subsection (c) of such section.

    `(C) The Secretary may adjust the daily cost of care estimated by an eligible entity for purposes of this paragraph to exclude other sources of income described in subparagraph (E) that the eligible entity certifies to be correct.

    `(D) Each eligible entity shall provide to the Secretary such information with respect to other sources of income as the Secretary may require to make the adjustment under subparagraph (C).

    `(E) The other sources of income referred to in subparagraphs (C) and (D) are payments to the eligible entity for furnishing services to homeless veterans under programs other than under this subchapter, including payments and grants from other departments and agencies of the Federal Government, from departments or agencies of State or local government, and from private entities or organizations.

    `(4) In providing financial assistance under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall give preference to entities providing or coordinating the provision of supportive services for very low-income veteran families who are transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing.

    `(5) The Secretary shall ensure that, to the extent practicable, financial assistance under this subsection is equitably distributed across geographic regions, including rural communities and tribal lands.

    `(6) Each entity receiving financial assistance under this section to provide supportive services to a very low-income veteran family shall notify that family that such services are being paid for, in whole or in part, by the Department.

    `(7) The Secretary may require entities receiving financial assistance under this section to submit a report to the Secretary that describes the projects carried out with such financial assistance.

    `(b) Supportive Services- The supportive services referred to in subsection (a) are the following:

      `(1) Services provided by an eligible entity or subcontractors that address the needs of very low-income veteran families occupying permanent housing, including--

        `(A) outreach services;

        `(B) health care services, including diagnosis, treatment, and counseling for mental health and substance abuse disorders and for post-traumatic stress disorder, if such services are not readily available through the Department medical center serving the geographic area in which the veteran family is housed;

        `(C) habilitation and rehabilitation services;

        `(D) case management services;

        `(E) daily living services;

        `(F) personal financial planning;

        `(G) transportation services;

        `(H) vocational counseling;

        `(I) employment and training;

        `(J) educational services;

        `(K) assistance in obtaining veterans benefits and other public benefits, including health care provided by the Department;

        `(L) assistance in obtaining income support;

        `(M) assistance in obtaining health insurance;

        `(N) fiduciary and representative payee services;

        `(O) legal services to assist the veteran family with reconsiderations or appeals of veterans and public benefit claim denials and to resolve outstanding warrants that interfere with the family's ability to obtain or retain housing or supportive services;

        `(P) child care;

        `(Q) housing counseling;

        `(R) other services necessary for maintaining independent living; and

        `(S) coordination of services under this paragraph.

      `(2) Services described in paragraph (1) that are delivered to very low-income veteran families who are homeless and who are scheduled to become residents of permanent housing within 90 days pending the location or development of housing suitable for permanent housing.

      `(3) Services described in paragraph (1) for very low-income veteran families who have voluntarily chosen to seek other housing after a period of tenancy in permanent housing, that are provided, for a period of 90 days after such families exit permanent housing or until such families commence receipt of other housing services adequate to meet their current needs, but only to the extent that services under this paragraph are designed to support such families in their choice to transition into housing that is responsive to their individual needs and preferences.

    `(c) Application for Financial Assistance- (1) An eligible entity seeking financial assistance under subsection (a) shall submit an application to the Secretary in such form, in such manner, and containing such commitments and information as the Secretary determines to be necessary to carry out this section.

    `(2) Each application submitted by an eligible entity under paragraph (1) shall contain--

      `(A) a description of the supportive services proposed to be provided by the eligible entity;

      `(B) a description of the types of very low-income veteran families proposed to be provided such services;

      `(C) an estimate of the number of very low-income veteran families proposed to be provided such services;

      `(D) evidence of the experience of the eligible entity in providing supportive services to very low-income veteran families; and

      `(E) a description of the managerial capacity of the eligible entity to--

        `(i) coordinate the provision of supportive services with the provision of permanent housing, by the eligible entity or by other organizations;

        `(ii) continuously assess the needs of very low-income veteran families for supportive services;

        `(iii) coordinate the provision of supportive services with the services of the Department;

        `(iv) tailor supportive services to the needs of very low-income veteran families; and

        `(v) continuously seek new sources of assistance to ensure the long-term provision of supportive services to very low-income veteran families.

    `(3) The Secretary shall establish criteria for the selection of eligible entities to be provided financial assistance under this section.

    `(d) Technical Assistance- (1) The Secretary shall provide training and technical assistance to participating eligible entities regarding the planning, development, and provision of supportive services to very low-income veteran families occupying permanent housing.

    `(2) The Secretary may provide the training described in paragraph (1) directly or through grants or contracts with appropriate public or nonprofit private entities.

    `(e) Funding- (1) From amounts appropriated to the Department for Medical Care, there shall be available to carry out this section amounts as follows:

      `(A) $15,000,000 for fiscal year 2007.

      `(B) $20,000,000 for fiscal year 2008.

      `(C) $25,000,000 for fiscal year 2009.

    `(2) Not more than $750,000 may be available under paragraph (1) in any fiscal year to provide technical assistance under subsection (d).

    `(f) Definitions- In this section:

      `(1) The term `consumer cooperative' has the meaning given such term in section 202 of the Housing Act of 1959 (12 U.S.C. 1701q).

      `(2) The term `eligible entity' means--

        `(A) a private nonprofit organization; or

        `(B) a consumer cooperative.

      `(3) The term `homeless' has the meaning given that term in section 103 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11302).

      `(4) The term `permanent housing' means community-based housing without a designated length of stay.

      `(5) The term `private nonprofit organization' means any of the following:

        `(A) Any incorporated private institution or foundation--

          `(i) no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any member, founder, contributor, or individual;

          `(ii) which has a governing board that is responsible for the operation of the supportive services provided under this section; and

          `(iii) which is approved by the Secretary as to financial responsibility;

        `(B) A for-profit limited partnership, the sole general partner of which is an organization meeting the requirements of clauses (i), (ii), and (iii) of subparagraph (A).

        `(C) A corporation wholly owned and controlled by an organization meeting the requirements of clauses (i), (ii), and (iii) of subparagraph (A).

        `(D) A tribally designated housing entity (as defined in section 4 of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 (25 U.S.C. 4103)).

      `(6)(A) Subject to subparagraphs (B) and (C), the term `very low-income veteran family' means a veteran family whose income does not exceed 50 percent of the median income for the area, as determined by the Secretary in accordance with this paragraph.

      `(B) The Secretary shall make appropriate adjustments to the income requirement under subparagraph (A) based on family size.

      `(C) The Secretary may establish an income ceiling higher or lower than 50 percent of the median income for an area if the Secretary determines that such variations are necessary because the area has unusually high or low construction costs, fair market rents (as determined under section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437f)), or family incomes.

      `(7) The term `veteran family' includes a veteran who is a single person and a family in which the head of household or the spouse of the head of household is a veteran.'.

      (2) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 20 of such title is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 2043 the following new item:

      `2044. Financial assistance for supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing.'.

    (c) Study of Effectiveness of Permanent Housing Program-

      (1) IN GENERAL- For fiscal years 2007 and 2008, the Secretary shall conduct a study of the effectiveness of the permanent housing program under section 2044 of title 38, United States Code, as amended by subsection (b), in meeting the needs of very low-income veteran families, as that term is defined in that section.

      (2) COMPARISON- In the study required by paragraph (1), the Secretary shall compare the results of the program referred to in that subsection with other programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs dedicated to the delivery of housing and services to veterans.

      (3) CRITERIA- In making the comparison required in paragraph (2), the Secretary shall examine the following:

        (A) The satisfaction of veterans targeted by the programs described in paragraph (2).

        (B) The health status of such veterans.

        (C) The housing provided such veterans under such programs.

        (D) The degree to which such veterans are encouraged to productive activity by such programs.

      (4) REPORT- Not later than March 31, 2009, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the results of the study required by paragraph (1).

TITLE VI--MISCELLANEOUS BENEFITS

SEC. 601. RESIDENTIAL COOPERATIVE HOUSING UNITS.

    (a) Housing Benefits for Cooperative Apartment Units- Subsection (a) of section 3710 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after paragraph (11) the following new paragraph:

      `(12) To purchase stock or membership in a cooperative housing corporation for the purpose of entitling the veteran to occupy for dwelling purposes a single family residential unit in a development, project, or structure owned or leased by such corporation, in accordance with subsection (h).'.

    (b) Conditions of Housing Benefits for Cooperative Apartment Units- Such section is further amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

    `(h)(1) A loan may not be guaranteed under subsection (a)(12) unless--

      `(A) the development, project, or structure of the cooperative housing corporation complies with such criteria as the Secretary prescribes in regulations; and

      `(B) the dwelling unit that the purchase of stock or membership in the development, project, or structure of the cooperative housing corporation entitles the purchaser to occupy is a single family residential unit.

    `(2) In this subsection, the term `cooperative housing corporation' has the same meaning given such term in section 216(b)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

    `(3) When applying the term `value of the property' to a loan guaranteed under subsection (a)(12), such term means the appraised value of the stock or membership entitling the purchaser to the permanent occupancy of the dwelling unit in the development, project, or structure of the cooperative housing corporation.'.

SEC. 602. INCREASE IN SUPPLEMENTAL INSURANCE FOR TOTALLY DISABLED VETERANS.

    Section 1922A(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking `$20,000' and inserting `$30,000, during the period beginning on October 1, 2007, and ending on September 31, 2011, or $20,000 at any other time'.

SEC. 603. REAUTHORIZATION OF USE OF CERTAIN INFORMATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES.

    (a) Information From Secretary of the Treasury or Commissioner of Social Security- Section 5317(g) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking `September 30, 2008' and inserting `September 30, 2011'.

    (b) Tax Returns and Tax Return Information- The last sentence of section 6103(l)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by striking `September 30, 2008' and inserting `September 30, 2011'.

SEC. 604. CLARIFICATION OF CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES COVERED BY CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF LAW.

    (a) Payment of Pension During Confinement in Penal Institutions- Section 1505(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking `or local penal institution' and inserting `local, or other penal institution or correctional facility'.

    (b) Allowances for Training and Rehabilitation for Veterans With Service-Connected Disabilities- Section 3108(g)(1) of such title is amended by striking `or local penal institution' and inserting `local, or other penal institution or correctional facility'.

    (c) Educational Assistance Benefits for Post-Vietnam Era Veterans- Section 3231(d)(1) of such title is amended by striking `or local penal institution' and inserting `local, or other penal institution or correctional facility'.

    (d) Computation of Educational Assistance Allowances for Veterans Generally- Section 3482(g)(1) of such title is amended by striking `or local penal institution' and inserting `local, or other penal institution or correctional facility'.

    (e) Computation of Educational Assistance Allowance for Survivors and Dependents- Section 3532(e) of such title is amended by striking `or local penal institution' and inserting `local, or other penal institution or correctional facility'.

    (f) Limitation on Payment of Compensation and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation- Section 5313 of such title is amended--

      (1) in subsection (a)(1), by striking `or local penal institution' and inserting `local, or other penal institution or correctional facility';

      (2) in subsection (b)(3), by striking `or local penal institution' and inserting `local, or other penal institution or correctional facility'; and

      (3) in subsection (c), by striking `or local penal institution' and inserting `local, or other penal institution or correctional facility'.

    (g) Limitation on Payment of Clothing Allowance- Section 5313A of such title is amended by striking `or local penal institution' and inserting `local, or other penal institution or correctional facility'.

Passed the Senate August 3, 2006.

Attest:

EMILY J. REYNOLDS,

Secretary.