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H.R. 299: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017

The text of the bill below is as of May 18, 2018 (Reported by House Committee).


IB

Union Calendar No. 523

115th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 299

[Report No. 115–680]

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 5, 2017

(for himself, Mr. Walz, Ms. Stefanik, Mr. Courtney, Mr. Ross, and Mr. LoBiondo) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

May 18, 2018

Additional sponsors: Mr. Palazzo, Ms. Sinema, Mr. Thomas J. Rooney of Florida, Mr. Ruppersberger, Mr. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Ms. McCollum, Mr. Zeldin, Mrs. Dingell, Ms. DelBene, Ms. DeLauro, Mr. Neal, Mr. Kildee, Mr. Mooney of West Virginia, Mr. Mullin, Mr. Curbelo of Florida, Mr. Webster of Florida, Ms. Kuster of New Hampshire, Mr. Knight, Ms. Tsongas, Ms. Slaughter, Mr. Serrano, Ms. Clark of Massachusetts, Ms. Kelly of Illinois, Mr. Farenthold, Mrs. Walorski, Mr. Rush, Mr. Yoder, Mr. Nunes, Miss Rice of New York, Mr. Kelly of Pennsylvania, Mr. Bilirakis, Mr. DeFazio, Mrs. Napolitano, Mr. Jones, Mr. Peters, Mr. Himes, Mrs. Beatty, Mr. Langevin, Mr. Meehan, Mr. Larsen of Washington, Mr. Moulton, Mr. Massie, Mr. Welch, Mr. Gallego, Mr. Joyce of Ohio, Ms. Frankel of Florida, Mr. Thompson of Pennsylvania, Mr. Garamendi, Mr. Sensenbrenner, Mr. Delaney, Mr. LaMalfa, Mr. King of New York, Mrs. Comstock, Ms. Bordallo, Mr. Costello of Pennsylvania, Mr. Barletta, Ms. Brownley of California, Mr. Heck, Mr. Marino, Ms. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Mr. Blumenauer, Mr. McCaul, Mr. Schiff, Mr. Johnson of Ohio, Mr. Byrne, Ms. Herrera Beutler, Mr. Poe of Texas, Mr. Katko, Mr. Cramer, Ms. Shea-Porter, Mr. Carter of Georgia, Mr. Ryan of Ohio, Mr. Latta, Mr. Yarmuth, Mr. Young of Iowa, Mr. Walberg, Ms. Matsui, Mr. Ellison, Mr. Hudson, Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Rogers of Kentucky, Ms. Pingree, Ms. Castor of Florida, Mr. Gohmert, Mr. Cárdenas, Mrs. Davis of California, Mr. Lowenthal, Ms. Gabbard, Mr. Jenkins of West Virginia, Mr. Vela, Mr. Gonzalez of Texas, Mr. Cole, Mr. Brendan F. Boyle of Pennsylvania, Mr. Lance, Mr. Tonko, Mr. Hill, Mr. Calvert, Mr. McKinley, Mr. Gene Green of Texas, Mr. Connolly, Mr. Rohrabacher, Mr. McGovern, Ms. Bonamici, Mr. Pocan, Mr. Scott of Virginia, Mr. Larson of Connecticut, Mr. Olson, Mr. Duffy, Mr. Costa, Mr. Kind, Mr. MacArthur, Ms. Meng, Mr. Bishop of Utah, Mr. Sires, Mr. Perlmutter, Ms. Judy Chu of California, Ms. Sánchez, Mr. Griffith, Mr. Bishop of Georgia, Ms. Esty of Connecticut, Mr. Swalwell of California, Ms. Moore, Mr. Loebsack, Mr. Graves of Missouri, Mr. Keating, Ms. Jenkins of Kansas, Mr. Cicilline, Mr. Vargas, Ms. Norton, Mr. LaHood, Mr. Babin, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Faso, Mr. Huizenga, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Gutiérrez, Mr. Upton, Mr. Rouzer, Mr. Quigley, Mr. Fortenberry, Mrs. Lowey, Mr. Smith of Washington, Mr. Bishop of Michigan, Mr. Crawford, Mr. Mast, Mr. Wittman, Mr. Gibbs, Mr. Paulsen, Mr. Soto, Mr. Ted Lieu of California, Mr. Hastings, Mr. Kennedy, Ms. Roybal-Allard, Mr. Amodei, Mr. Bergman, Mr. Gaetz, Mr. Gallagher, Mr. Renacci, Mr. Smith of New Jersey, Mr. Sarbanes, Mr. Weber of Texas, Mr. Kilmer, Mr. Foster, Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Ms. DeGette, Ms. Hanabusa, Mr. Bridenstine, Mr. Veasey, Mr. Castro of Texas, Mrs. Love, Mr. Pallone, Mrs. Torres, Mr. Duncan of South Carolina, Mr. King of Iowa, Mr. Fitzpatrick, Mr. Poliquin, Mr. Cartwright, Mr. Rice of South Carolina, Mr. Hultgren, Ms. Tenney, Mr. Turner, Mr. Young of Alaska, Mr. Deutch, Mr. Blum, Mr. O'Rourke, Mr. Rothfus, Mr. Grothman, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, Miss González-Colón of Puerto Rico, Ms. Rosen, Mr. Dunn, Mr. Williams, Mr. Westerman, Mrs. Bustos, Mr. Correa, Mr. Donovan, Mr. Higgins of New York, Mrs. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, Mr. Aguilar, Mr. Ruiz, Mrs. Noem, Mr. David Scott of Georgia, Mr. Rutherford, Mr. Nolan, Mrs. Roby, Ms. Adams, Mr. Yoho, Mr. Suozzi, Mr. Gottheimer, Mr. Thompson of California, Mrs. Hartzler, Ms. Lofgren, Mr. Tiberi, Mr. Tipton, Mrs. Murphy of Florida, Mr. Harper, Mrs. Radewagen, Mrs. Watson Coleman, Mr. Cook, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, Mr. Lynch, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Smith of Missouri, Mr. Sablan, Mr. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Issa, Mr. Newhouse, Ms. Blunt Rochester, Mrs. Demings, Mr. Takano, Mr. Butterfield, Mr. Perry, Mr. Capuano, Ms. Barragán, Mr. Crist, Mr. Lawson of Florida, Mr. Richmond, Ms. Clarke of New York, Mr. Schrader, Mr. DeSantis, Mr. Carter of Texas, Mr. DeSaulnier, Mr. Peterson, Mr. Price of North Carolina, Mr. Schneider, Mr. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Ms. Kaptur, Mr. Brady of Pennsylvania, Ms. Jackson Lee, Mr. Meeks, Mr. Walden, Ms. Schakowsky, Mr. Posey, Mr. O'Halleran, Mr. Smucker, Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Grijalva, Ms. McSally, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Engel, Mr. Raskin, Mr. Bacon, Mr. Conyers, Mr. Crowley, Mrs. Brooks of Indiana, Mr. Brown of Maryland, Mr. Kihuen, Mr. Carson of Indiana, Mr. Stivers, Ms. Eshoo, Mr. Stewart, Mr. Reed, Mr. Evans, Mr. Payne, Mr. Jordan, Ms. Velázquez, Mr. Norcross, Ms. Granger, Mr. Dent, Mr. Graves of Louisiana, Mr. McEachin, Mr. Carbajal, Mr. Brat, Ms. Sewell of Alabama, Mr. Murphy of Pennsylvania, Mr. Michael F. Doyle of Pennsylvania, Ms. Speier, Mrs. McMorris Rodgers, Mr. Amash, Mr. Lewis of Georgia, Mr. Messer, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Estes of Kansas, Mr. Norman, Mr. Reichert, Mr. Al Green of Texas, Mr. Denham, Mr. Panetta, Ms. Maxine Waters of California, Mr. Roskam, Mr. Espaillat, Mr. Pascrell, Mr. Garrett, Mr. Kinzinger, Mr. Khanna, Mr. Polis, Mr. Lipinski, Mr. Krishnamoorthi, Mr. Gosar, Ms. Fudge, Mr. Frelinghuysen, Ms. Titus, Mr. Shuster, Mrs. Handel, Mr. McClintock, Ms. Bass, Mr. Collins of New York, Mr. Goodlatte, Mr. Aderholt, Mr. Jeffries, Mr. Beyer, Mrs. Black, and Mr. Sessions

May 18, 2018

Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed

Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the part printed in italic

For text of introduced bill, see copy of bill as introduced on January 5, 2017


A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes.


1.

Clarification of presumptions of exposure for veterans who served in vicinity of Republic of Vietnam

(a)

In general

Chapter 11 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 1116 the following new section:

1116A.

Presumptions of service connection for veterans who served in the territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam

(a)

Service connection

For the purposes of section 1110 of this title, and subject to section 1113 of this title, a disease covered by section 1116 of this title becoming manifest as specified in that section in a veteran who, during active military, naval, or air service, served in the territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975, shall be considered to have been incurred in or aggravated by such service, notwithstanding that there is no record of evidence of such disease during the period of such service.

(b)

Exposure

A veteran who, during active military, naval, or air service, served in the territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975, shall be presumed to have been exposed during such service to an herbicide agent containing dioxin or 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, and may be presumed to have been exposed during such service to any other chemical compound in an herbicide agent, unless there is affirmative evidence to establish that the veteran was not exposed to any such agent during that service.

(c)

Effective date of award

(1)

Except as provided by paragraph (2), the effective date of an award under this section shall be determined in accordance with section 5110 of this title.

(2)
(A)

Notwithstanding subsection (g) of section 5110 of this title, the Secretary shall determine the effective date of an award based on a claim under this section for a veteran described in subparagraph (B) by treating the date on which the veteran filed the prior claim specified in clause (i) of such subparagraph as the date on which the veteran filed the claim so awarded under this section.

(B)

A veteran described in this subparagraph is a veteran who meets the following criteria:

(i)

The veteran submitted a claim for disability compensation on or after September 25, 1985, and before January 1, 2019, for a disease covered by this section, and the claim was denied by reason of the claim not establishing that the disease was incurred or aggravated by the service of the veteran.

(ii)

The veteran submits a claim for disability compensation on or after January 1, 2019, for the same condition covered by the prior claim under clause (i), and the claim is approved pursuant to this section.

(d)

Herbicide agent

In this section, the term herbicide agent has the meaning given that term in section 1116 (a)(3) of this title.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 1116 the following new item:

1116A. Presumptions of service connection for veterans who served in the territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam.

.

(c)

Health care

Section 1710(e)(4) of such title is amended by inserting (including the territorial seas of such Republic) after served on active duty in the Republic of Vietnam.

(d)

Outreach

(1)

Requirement

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall conduct outreach to inform veterans described in paragraph (2) of the ability to submit a claim for disability compensation under section 1116A of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a).

(2)

Veteran described

A veteran described in this paragraph is a veteran who, during active military, naval, or air service, served in the territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975.

(e)

Reports

Not later than January 1, 2020, and not later than January 1, 2022, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Senate a report on claims for disability compensation under section 1116A of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a). Each report shall include the following with respect to the period covered by the report, disaggregated by the regional offices of the Department of Veterans Affairs:

(1)

The number of claims filed under such section.

(2)

The number of such claims granted.

(3)

The number of such claims denied.

(f)

Effective date

The amendments made by this section shall take effect on January 1, 2019.

2.

Presumption of herbicide exposure for certain veterans who served in Korea

(a)

In general

Chapter 11 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 1116A, as added by section 1, the following new section:

1116B.

Presumption of herbicide exposure for certain veterans who served in Korea

(a)

Presumption of service-Connection

(1)

For the purposes of section 1110 of this title, and subject to section 1113 of this title, a disease specified in subsection (b) that becomes manifest as specified in that subsection in a veteran described in paragraph (2) shall be considered to have been incurred or aggravated in the line of duty in the active military, naval, or air service, notwithstanding that there is no record of evidence of such disease during the period of such service.

(2)

A veteran described in this paragraph is a veteran who, during active military, naval, or air service, served in or near the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ), during the period beginning on September 1, 1967, and ending on August 31, 1971.

(b)

Diseases

A disease specified in this subsection is—

(1)

a disease specified in paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of section 1116 of this title that becomes manifest as specified in that paragraph; or

(2)

any additional disease that—

(A)

the Secretary determines in regulations warrants a presumption of service-connection by reason of having positive association with exposure to an herbicide agent; and

(B)

becomes manifest within any period prescribed in such regulations.

(c)

Herbicide agent

For purposes of this section, the term herbicide agent has the meaning given such term in section 1821(d) of this title.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 1116A, as added by section 1, the following new item:

1116B. Presumption of herbicide exposure for certain veterans who served in Korea.

.

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by this section shall take effect on January 1, 2019.

3.

Benefits for children of certain Thailand service veterans born with spina bifida

(a)

In general

Subchapter III of chapter 18 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

1822.

Benefits for children of certain Thailand service veterans born with spina bifida

(a)

Benefits authorized

The Secretary may provide to any child of a veteran of covered service in Thailand who is suffering from spina bifida the health care, vocational training and rehabilitation, and monetary allowance required to be paid to a child of a Vietnam veteran who is suffering from spina bifida under subchapter I of this chapter as if such child of a veteran of covered service in Thailand were a child of a Vietnam veteran who is suffering from spina bifida under such subchapter.

(b)

Spina bifida conditions covered

This section applies with respect to all forms and manifestations of spina bifida, except spina bifida occulta.

(c)

Veteran of covered service in Thailand

For purposes of this section, a veteran of covered service in Thailand is any individual, without regard to the characterization of that individual's service, who—

(1)

served in the active military, naval, or air service in Thailand, as determined by the Secretary in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975; and

(2)

is determined by the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, to have been exposed to a herbicide agent during such service in Thailand.

(d)

Herbicide agent

For purposes of this section, the term herbicide agent means a chemical in a herbicide used in support of United States and allied military operations in Thailand, as determined by the Secretary in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975.

.

(b)

Clerical amendments

(1)

Subchapter heading

The heading for subchapter III of chapter 18 of such title is amended by inserting and Thailand after Korea.

(2)

Table of sections

The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 18 of such title is amended—

(A)

by striking the item relating to subchapter III and inserting the following new item:

Subchapter III—Children of certain Korea and Thailand service veterans born with spina bifida

;

and
(B)

by inserting after the item relating to section 1821 the following new item:

1822. Benefits for children of certain Thailand service veterans born with spina bifida.

.

(c)

Report

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Senate a report identifying—

(1)

the military installations of the United States located in Thailand during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975, at which an herbicide agent (as defined in section 1822 of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a)) was actively used; and

(2)

the period of such use.

4.

Report on certain Gulf War Illness study

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Senate a report on the findings, as of the date of the report, of the Follow-up Study of a National Cohort of Gulf War and Gulf Era Veterans under the epidemiology program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

5.

Loans guaranteed under home loan program of Department of Veterans Affairs

(a)

Adjustment of loan limit

Section 3703(a)(1) of title 38, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

in subparagraph (A)(i)(IV)—

(A)

by striking the lesser of; and

(B)

by striking or 25 percent of the loan; and

(2)

in subparagraph (C), by striking Freddie Mac and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting amount of the loan..

(b)

Loan fees

Section 3729(b)(2) of such title is amended by striking the loan fee table and inserting the following:

Type of loanActive duty veteranReservistOther obligor
(A)(i) Initial loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 0-down, or any other initial loan described in section 3710(a) other than with 5-down or 10-down (closed on or after October 1, 2004, and before January 1, 2019) 2.152.40NA
(A)(ii) Initial loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 0-down, or any other initial loan described in section 3710(a) other than with 5-down or 10-down (closed on or after January 1, 2019, and before October 1, 2026)2.402.40NA
(A)(iii) Initial loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 0-down, or any other initial loan described in section 3710(a) other than with 5-down or 10-down (closed on or after October 1, 2026, and before October 1, 2027) 2.152.15NA
(A)(iv) Initial loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 0-down, or any other initial loan described in section 3710(a) other than with 5-down or 10-down (closed on or after October 1, 2027)1.401.40NA
(B)(i) Subsequent loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 0-down, or any other subsequent loan described in section 3710(a) (closed on or after October 1, 2004, and before January 1, 2019) 3.303.30NA
(B)(ii) Subsequent loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 0-down, or any other subsequent loan described in section 3710(a) (closed on or after January 1, 2019, and before October 1, 2026) 3.803.80NA
(B)(iii) Subsequent loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 0-down, or any other subsequent loan described in section 3710(a) (closed on or after October 1, 2026, and before October 1, 2027) 3.303.30NA
(B)(iv) Subsequent loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 0-down, or any other subsequent loan described in section 3710(a) (closed on or after October 1, 2027)1.251.25NA
(C)(i) Loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 5-down (closed before January 1, 2019) 1.501.75NA
(C)(ii) Loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 5-down (closed on or after January 1, 2019, and before October 1, 2026) 1.751.75NA
(C)(iii) Loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 5-down (closed on or after October 1, 2026, and before October 1, 2027) 1.501.50NA
(C)(iv) Loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 5-down (closed on or after October 1, 2027)0.750.75NA
(D)(i) Loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 10-down (closed before January 1, 2019) 1.251.50NA
(D)(ii) Loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 10-down (closed on or after January 1, 2019, and before October 1, 2026) 1.451.45NA
(D)(iii) Loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 10-down (closed on or after October 1, 2026, and before October 1, 2027) 1.251.25NA
(D)(iv) Loan described in section 3710(a) to purchase or construct a dwelling with 10-down (closed on or after October 1, 2027)0.500.50NA
(E) Interest rate reduction refinancing loan0.500.50NA
(F) Direct loan under section 37111.001.00NA
(G) Manufactured home loan under section 3712 (other than an interest rate reduction refinancing loan)1.001.00NA
(H) Loan to Native American veteran under section 3762 (other than an interest rate reduction refinancing loan)1.251.25NA
(I) Loan assumption under section 37140.500.500.50
(J) Loan under section 3733(a)2.252.252.25

.

(c)

Collection of loan fees

Section 3729(c) of such title is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1), by striking A fee and inserting Subject to paragraph (3), a fee; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(3)

A fee shall be collected under this section from any veteran with a service-connected disability rated as less than total, or any surviving spouse of such a veteran, who, on or after January 1, 2019, receives a loan in an amount that exceeds the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit limitation determined under section 305(a)(2) of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation Act (12 U.S.C. 1454(a)(2)) for a single-family residence, as adjusted for the year involved.

.

(d)

Effective date

The amendments made by this section shall apply with respect to a loan guaranteed under section 3710 of title 38, United States Code, on or after January 1, 2019.

(e)

Guidance

Notwithstanding section 501 of such title, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs may issue guidance to implement this section before prescribing new regulations under sections 3703 and 3729 of such title, as amended by subsections (a), (b), and (c).

6.

Information gathering for Department of Veterans Affairs home loan appraisals

(a)

In general

Section 3731(b) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(3)

The Secretary shall permit an appraiser on a list developed and maintained under subsection (a)(3) to make an appraisal for the purposes of this chapter based solely on information gathered by a person with whom the appraiser has entered into an agreement for such services.

.

(b)

Effective date

The amendments made by this section shall apply with respect to an appraisal under section 3731 of such title, on or after January 1, 2019.

(c)

Guidance

Notwithstanding section 501 of such title, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs may issue guidance to implement this section before prescribing new regulations under sections 3731 of such title, as amended by subsection (a).

May 18, 2018

Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed