Legislation Watch

Updated: November 3, 2022

Table of Contents

    Many types of introduced legislation directly affect active-duty military, Guard, Reserve, retirees, veterans, dependent children and spouses of military members. Legislation Watch includes recently introduced bills and resolutions, those that have had significant action and those that have or are about to become law.

    There are various stages of legislation, including bills and resolutions that have been recently introduced, referred to committee, “ordered reported,” scheduled “for the floor” and ready for presidential action.

    The journey from concept to law is not always a straightforward one. Many bills or resolutions are introduced, only to stall in one of the later stages. Others may go through quickly and become law much faster than other measures.

    Executive Orders

    EO 14004-Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform

    Issued by: President Joseph R. Biden

    Signed into law: Jan. 25, 2021

    In January 2021, President Joseph R. Biden issued an executive order undoing the previous administration’s ban on transgendered troops. Following the signature of that executive action, the Department of Defense undertook a two-month-long review process to develop guidelines and policy for military members.

    At the end of March, DoD officials announced policy that allows transgender troops to serve using their “self-identified gender.” Medically required transition care is authorized under the executive order.

    Key Bills Introduced

    Considered the first stage of the legislative process, a bill that is introduced may be referred to a committee for review before it is sent on to the House or Senate. Bills are sorted by most recent date first.

    H.R. 2910

    Introduced: April 30, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona-R

    This House resolution, the “Veterans Healthcare Freedom Act,” proposes to require the secretary of Veterans Affairs to “carry out a pilot program to improve the ability of veterans to access medical care in medical facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs.” This resolution seeks to give veterans ”the ability to choose health-care providers.” This resolution has gone to committee. The House Veterans Affairs Committee will review it before sending it on for further consideration.

    H.R. 2281

    Introduced: March 29, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Derek Kilmer, Washington-D

    This House resolution proposes to award a collective Congressional Gold Medal to members of Army “dust off crews” who served during the Vietnam War. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services and House Committee on House Administration, where it will be reviewed prior to moving to the House floor for consideration.

    H.R. 2192: To Provide for Recovery by Individuals Who Were Stationed, Lived or Worked at Camp Lejeune, for Certain Actions of Omissions by the United States

    Introduced: March 26, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Matthew Cartwright, Pennsylvania-D

    This House resolution proposes to allow those who worked at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or longer between dates in 1953 and 1987 to “bring an action in the United States District Court” to seek relief from issues related to contaminated water at the Marine Corps base. At press time, the resolution has not been sent to committee for further consideration.

    H.R. 333: Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act

    Introduced: Jan. 15, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr., Georgia-D

    This law would amend Title 10, United States Code, to permit concurrent receipt of both military retirement pay and VA compensation for service-connected medical issues for those who are VA-rated as 50% or less service-connected disabled. The House resolution would extend eligibility “for concurrent receipt to chapter 61 disability retirees with less than 20 years of service” and other purposes. This bill is currently under review by the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committees on Veterans Affairs.

    H.R. 324: To Specify the Federal Share of the Costs of Certain Duty of the National Guard in Connection With the Coronavirus Disease 2019

    Introduced: Jan. 15, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Cheri Bustos, Illinois-D

    This House Resolution seeks specification of the actual federal share to be paid for activation of the National Guard during the coronavirus pandemic. It has been referred to the House Armed Services Committee for review.

    H.R. 303: Retired Pay Restoration Act

    Introduced: Jan. 13, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Florida-R

    This resolution seeks to allow “additional retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability” to qualify for both VA disability pay and military retirement pay “by reason of their years of military service or combat-related special compensation,” The resolution has been referred to two committees – the House Armed Services Committee and the House Veterans Affairs Committee, where it goes under review pending further action.

    H.R. 249

    Introduced: Jan. 11, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep Derek Kilmer, Washington-D

    This bill addresses “certain executive orders” related to federal employees, collective bargaining and workplace rights. While this does not directly address issues related to military service, federal employees who work for the DoD could be affected by the passage of this bill. It is currently under review in multiple committees, including the House Armed Services Committee.

    H.R. 148

    Introduced: Jan. 4, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep Donald Norcross, New Jersey-D

    This legislation would, if passed, provide a work-opportunity tax credit for military spouses. This law would also offer flexible spending arrangements for those who need military child care services. This bill has been sent to committee; it is under review by the House Armed Services Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

    H.R. 147

    Introduced: Jan. 4, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep Donald Norcross, New Jersey-D

    This legislation proposes to amend portions of the United States Code (Title 10 and Title 38) to improve transition services for military members separating from the United States Military. It proposes to require the Department of Labor to provide information about apprenticeship programs to members of the Armed Forces who are separating from active duty.

    This was introduced in January and is under consideration by the House Ways and Means Committee, as well as the House Armed Services Committee. In April, it went under consideration by an economic opportunity committee.

    H.R. 196

    Introduced: Jan. 5, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Michael Burgess, Texas-R

    This law seeks to remove authority from the Central Intelligence Agency to conduct drone strikes or “other deliberately lethal action.” This authority would, under the new law, be transferred to the Department of Defense. The measure is under review by multiple committees, including the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee before it goes to the floor for further consideration.

    H.R. 185

    Introduced Jan. 4, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Robert Wittman, Virginia-R

    This House resolution would, if passed, amend Title 10, United States Code to create a requirement for a single disability exam “as part of the required Department of Defense physical examination for separating members of the Armed Forces.” This measure is under review by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

    Agreed to (Simple Resolutions)

    S. Res. 148

    Introduced: April 12, 2021

    Agreed to: April 14, 2021

    Sponsored by: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts-D

    This Senate resolution emphasizes “the importance of paying tribute to those individuals who have faithfully served and retired from the Armed Forces of the United States.” The measure names April 18 Military Retiree Appreciation Day. The resolution is designed to encourage Americans to remember the past service of military retirees. It was passed with unanimous consent. This Senate resolution does not have the force of law, as is common with such legislation.

    S. Res. 143

    Introduced: March 25, 2021

    Agreed to: April 21, 2021

    Sponsored by: Sen. Margaret Hassan, New Hampshire-D

    This Senate resolution was introduced to honor “the patriotism and service to the United States provided by Veterans Service Organizations” during the COVID-19 pandemic. This resolution was passed in the Senate and was not voted on in the other chamber, as per usual with this type of resolution. The measure “does not have the force of law” but was passed by unanimous consent.

    S. Res. 617: A Resolution Recognizing the American Legion for 100 Years of Service to Veterans and Members of the Armed Forces in the United States and Their Families

    Introduced: Aug. 23, 2018

    Sponsored by: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota-D

    Agreed to (simple resolution): Aug. 28, 2018

    This simple resolution honors a century of service by the American Legion to veterans and their families. The American Legion, according to the text of the resolution, deserves recognition thanks to important “legislative achievements,” including the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known to many as the Montgomery GI Bill.

    The agreement to the simple resolution means this legislation has passed, and no further action is required.

    Ordered Reported

    In the ordered-reported phase, a bill or resolution is released from committee. There is a report, which details the bill, and it is put on a House calendar to be considered. It then makes its way to the Senate for further review and consideration.

    963: Domestic Terrorism and Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2021

    Introduced: March 25, 2021

    Sponsored by: Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois-D

    Ordered reported: March 26, 2021

    This Senate bill is designed to bill to authorize dedicated domestic terrorism offices within the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The purpose of these offices is “to analyze and monitor domestic terrorist activity,” as well as to establish guidelines that require the federal government to “take steps to prevent domestic terrorism, and for other purposes.”

    Some may wonder why a bill on domestic terrorism finds its way into a page about military-specific programs, but lest we forget, the Department of Homeland Security is the agency that governs the United States Coast Guard, and any such legislation may have implications for those who serve as uniformed members of the USCG.

    None to report. A new Congress has begun, and the bill process starts all over again.

    Passed the House or Passed the Senate

    These pieces of legislation have passed from the House to the Senate, or vice versa.

    H.R. 2911

    Introduced: April 30, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Mike Bost, Illinois-R

    Passed the House (Senate next): May 17, 2021

    This House resolution would, if passed, direct the secretary of Veterans Affairs “to submit to Congress a plan for obligating and expending Coronavirus pandemic funding” provided to the Department of Veterans Affairs and for “other purposes,” including congressional oversight of pandemic funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    H.R. 2911 was sent to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. It has since passed in the House and goes to the Senate next for consideration.

    Senate Next

    The items listed here have been passed by the House and head to the Senate for further consideration.

    None to report. A new Congress has begun, and the bill process starts all over again.

    Passed the House and Senate: “President Next” in 2021

    The items listed here have been passed by both the House and Senate and await the signature of the president to become law.

    None to report. A new Congress has begun, and the bill process starts all over again.

    Key Bills Signed into Law / Passed Resolutions

    H.R. 2523: THRIVE Act

    Introduced: April 14, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Mike Levin, California-D

    Passed House and Senate: May 28, 2021

    Signed into law: June 8, 2021

    This House resolution seeks to amend the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to “improve the COVID-19 Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance program,” as well as to require “technical corrections” to the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020.

    This resolution went under consideration by the House Budget Committee, as well as the House committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and was reviewed under committee before being referred for further action. The resolution passed both the House and Senate in May and was signed into law by the president June 8.

    H.R. 335: To Provide for an Exception to a Limitation Against Appointment of Persons as Secretary of Defense Within Seven Years of Relief from Active Duty as a Regular Commissioned Officer of the Armed Forces

    Introduced: Jan. 15, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Adam Smith, Washington-D

    Passed the House: Jan. 21, 2021

    Passed the Senate: Jan. 21, 2021

    Signed into law: Jan. 22, 2021

    This is a House resolution seeking an exception to a requirement that appointments to the secretary of Defense be restricted to those who have left military service as a “regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces” for more than seven years prior to the appointment.

    The resolution went under review by the House Armed Services Committee. It passed the House and Senate in January and was signed into law Jan. 22.

    H.R. 1276: SAVE LIVES Act

    Introduced: Feb. 24, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Mark Takano, California-D

    Passed the House: March 9, 2021

    Passed the Senate with changes: March 17, 2021

    House agreed to changes: March 19, 2021

    Signed into law: March 24, 2021

    The SAVE LIVES Act authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to supply a COVID-19 vaccine to “covered individuals” during the COVID-19 emergency. Who is considered “covered”? A wide range of people, including veterans who are not eligible to enroll in the VA health care system, “specified veterans” eligible for medical care and services overseas, family caregivers approved under the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers and many others.

    H.R. 1319: American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

    Introduced: Feb. 24, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. John Yarmuth, Kentucky-D

    Passed the House: Feb. 21, 2021

    Passed the Senate with changes: March 6, 2021

    House agreed to changes: March 10, 2021

    Signed into law: March 11, 2021

    The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was created to provide “additional relief” to Americans during the pandemic. This act incorporates other pieces of legislation, some of which directly affect veterans, service members, their families, etc. Military-related legislation rolled into this act includes H.R. 637, Veterans Economic Recovery Act of 2021, and S. 134: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to initiate a retraining assistance program for unemployed veterans.

    H.R. 335

    Introduced: Jan. 15, 2021

    Sponsored by: Rep. Adam Smith, Washington-D

    Passed the House and Senate: Jan. 21, 2021

    Signed into law: Jan. 22, 2021

    This is a House resolution seeking an exception to a requirement that appointments to the secretary of Defense be restricted to those who have left military service as a “regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces” for more than seven years prior to the appointment. The resolution passed same-day in both the House and Senate and was signed into law by the president the following day.

    S. 1790: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020

    Introduced: June 11, 2019

    Sponsored by: Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma-R

    Signed into law by the president: December 20, 2019

    This legislation, which prevented a government shutdown showdown on Capitol Hill just before the holiday break, authorizes appropriations for fiscal year 2020 for “military activities of the Department of Defense,” plus military construction, and “defense activities of the Department of Energy.”

    This bill essentially funds the military until the end of the 2020 fiscal year. It passed both the House and Congress and was signed into law on Dec. 20, 2019.

    H.R. 4285: Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2019

    Introduced: Sept. 11, 2019

    Sponsored by: Rep. Anthony Brindisi, New York-D

    Signed by the president and enacted into law: Sept. 30, 2019

    This House Resolution was written to extend the authority of certain VA activities including (but not limited to) the following:

    • Authority to operate a VA regional office in Manila, the Republic of the Philippines.
    • Extension of authority for financial assistance to provide services “for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing.”
    • Extension of temporary expansion of payments and allowances for veterans who must travel to get care from vet centers.

    The measure was passed by both the House and Senate in September 2019, and was signed into law by the president on Sept. 30, 2019.

    H.R. 2500: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020

    Introduced: May 2, 2019

    Sponsored by: Rep. Adam Smith, Washington-D

    Ordered reported: June 12, 2019

    Passed the House (Senate next): July 12, 2019

    Incorporated into other measures and signed into law: Aug. 23, 2019 (As H.R. 2938)

    The federal budget is approved in a two-stage procedure; one stage is appropriations, the other is authorizations. This House resolution is the latter, an authorization bill directing the use of federal funds and dictating how they may not be used. Authorization bills like this one are generally made for individual fiscal years.

    This resolution addresses a wide range of military concerns, including aircraft and construction projects broken down by military service, funding for overseas contingency operations and base realignment and closure activities, just to name a few. There is also text in the resolution dedicated to research, development and testing, as well as funding details for Reserve forces.

    This legislation was ordered reported on June 12, 2019, passed the House and was due for the Senate next before being incorporated into other measures, which were passed into law on Aug. 23, 2019.

    S.1195: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019

    Introduced: April 11, 2019

    Sponsored by: Sen Kirsten Gillibrand, New York-D

    Incorporated into H.R. 299: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019

    Signed into law by the president: June 25, 2019

    This bill sought to “clarify presumption” with regard to veteran illnesses or medical conditions that could be associated with service-connected exposure to “herbicide agents” during military service in the Republic of Vietnam.

    The text of the bill includes an important detail; “a disease specified (in another section) that becomes manifest as specified (in that section) 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.”

    This is an important clarification. It means that there does not need to be a prior medical record of a medical issue that may be related to exposure to “herbicide agents” in Vietnam.

    This could pave the way for some veterans to be compensated for exposure who were previously denied because of a lack of evidence in military medical records.

    This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs but was later enacted “by other measures” and signed into law by the president June 25, 2019 as House Resolution 299: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019.

    S. 1215: A Bill to Authorize Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2020

    Introduced: April 11, 2019

    Passed into other measures: July-September 2019

    Sponsored by: Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma-R

    This Senate bill would permit funding “for military activities of the DoD, and for military construction, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year,” and for “other purposes.” Sen Inhofe went on record at the time of the bill’s introduction stating, “We introduce this bill for the purpose of placing the administration’s proposals before Congress and the public without expressing our own views on the substance of these proposals.”

    This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Armed Services; it was under consideration by the committee before heading to the Senate floor for consideration.

    S.1215 was not passed, but key portions of it were passed via incorporation into other measures between July and September 2019.

    H.R. 1988: Protect Affordable Mortgages for Veterans Act of 2019

    Introduced: March 28, 2019

    Passed House (Senate next): July 9, 2019

    Passed Senate (president next): July 9, 2019

    Signed into law (as S. 1749 Protect Affordable Mortgages for Veterans Act of 2019): July 25, 2019

    Sponsored by: Rep. David Scott, Georgia-D

    The intent of this House resolution is to add clarity to federal requirements for “seasoning periods” a VA borrower must wait out after being approved for a mortgage loan before the veteran can refinance that loan. This law, if passed, would require the following seasoning period: “a loan to a veteran . . . that is a refinance may not be guaranteed or insured under this chapter until the date that is the later of . . . the date on which the borrower has made at least six consecutive monthly payments on the loan being refinanced; and . . . the date that is 210 days after the first payment due date of the loan being refinanced.”

    This bill was under review by two committees: The House Financial Services Committee and the House Veterans’ Affairs Economic Opportunity Committee. It was passed by the House but did not get signed into law; instead S. 1749 passed with the same title and was signed into law by the president July 25, 2019.

    S. 576: A Bill to Amend Title 38, United States Code, to Provide for a Presumption of Herbicide Exposure for Certain Veterans Who Served in Korea, and for Other Purposes

    Introduced: Feb. 27, 2019

    Incorporated into: H.R. 299, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019

    Signed into law: June 25, 2019

    Sponsored by: Sen. Jerry Moran, Kansas-R

    This Senate bill seeks a presumption for exposure to damaging chemicals, which could be compared to similar, existing presumptions for Vietnam veterans and Agent Orange. The implications of this bill’s passage include possible consideration or reconsideration of veteran medical claims for compensation for service-connected medical issues related to such exposure.

    This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where it was under consideration before further action. Eventually, portions of S.576 were incorporated into the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. That act was signed by the president and became law June 25, 2019.

    National Initiative to Empower Veterans and End Veteran Suicide

    Created by executive order: March 5, 2019

    On March 5, 2019, the president signed an executive order requiring the formation of a Veteran Suicide Task Force tasked with a set of priorities, including the creation of a “national public health roadmap.” Also on the agenda: Creating grants to local communities designed to deliver and coordinate services to affected veterans. There is also a requirement to create a plan to conduct research on veteran suicide, improve “associated processes” and “set benchmarks.” These are all required within one year of the order. The task force will be staffed by representatives from a wide range of government operations, including Health and Human Services, the VA, the Department of Homeland Security and other departments.

    H.R. 1726: Coast Guard Improvement and Reform Act of 2017 (Incorporated into and Passed as S. 140)

    Introduced: March 27, 2017

    Signed into law: Dec 4, 2018

    Sponsored by: Rep. Duncan Hunter Sponsor, California-R

    This resolution reorganizes a variety of provisions found in Title 14, United States Code, to expand the responsibilities of “several federal advisory committees that provide advice to the Coast Guard, including the National Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee,” by creating a mandate that such committees meet a minimum of one time per year, with each committee being required to terminate in 2027.

    This law was incorporated into S. 140, the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, and passed into law.

    H.R. 7213: Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 2018

    Introduced: Dec. 3, 2018

    Signed into law: Dec. 21, 2018

    Sponsored by: Rep. Daniel Donovan Jr. New York-R

    This law amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002, establishing in the Department of Homeland Security a “Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office,” which the bill intends to be led by an assistant secretary. The office “shall coordinate DHS strategy and policy to plan, detect, and protect against the importation, possession, storage, transportation, development, or use” of unauthorized chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials and associated devices or systems.

    This House resolution was signed into law by the president on Dec. 21, 2018, and incorporates portions of other measures including H.R. 6198, Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 2018, as well as from H.R. 2825, the DHS Authorization Act.

    S. 1050: Chinese American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act

    Introduced: May 4, 2017

    Signed into law: Dec. 20, 2018

    Sponsored by: Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Illinois-D

    This law awards a collective Congressional Gold Medal to Chinese American veterans of World War II, in recognition of their dedicated service during the war. The medal is intended to go on display at the Smithsonian Institution, “which is urged to make the medal available for display at other locations associated with such veterans or with World War II.”

    S. 2101: USS Indianapolis Congressional Gold Medal Act

    Introduced: Nov. 18, 2017

    Signed into law: Dec. 20, 2018

    Sponsored by: Sen. Joe Donnelly, Indiana-D

    Similar to S. 1050, also passed the week of Dec. 20, 2018, this bill awards a collective Congressional Gold Medal to the crew of the USS Indianapolis, “in recognition of their perseverance, bravery, and service to the United States,” according to the text of the bill. This law incorporates provisions of a similar measure in the House, H.R. 4107 USS Indianapolis Congressional Gold Medal Act.

    3479: Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2018

    Introduced: Sept. 18, 2018

    Sponsored by: Sen. John Isakson, Georgia-R

    Signed into law: Sept. 29, 2018

    This law extends certain provisions of the law that pertain to veterans’ benefits, including providing equipment to nursing homes for veteran care, extension of requirements for nursing home facilities to require specific veteran care where applicable, giving permanent authority to collect the costs of care and services from third parties and more.

    This legislation was signed into law by the president Sept. 29, 2018.

    H.R. 6157: Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Act, 2019, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019

    Introduced: June 20, 2018

    Sponsored by: Rep. Kay Granger, Texas-R

    Signed into law: Sept. 29, 2018

    This House resolution provides $674.6 billion in “total discretionary budget authority” for the DoD, applicable in fiscal year 2019.

    Of that amount, $606.5 billion is given for the DoD base budget, plus another $68.1 billion for overseas contingency operations said to be “consistent with the National Defense Authorization Act,” as well as the recently enacted budget agreement.

    This legislation was signed into law by the president Sept. 29, 2018.

    H.R. 2147: Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2018

    Introduced: April 26, 2017

    Sponsored by: Rep. Mike Coffman, Colorado-R

    Signed into law: Sept. 17, 2018

    H.R. 2147 requires the VA to hire at least 50 veterans’ justice outreach specialists at eligible VA medical centers. This would assist veterans who have entered the criminal justice system in getting improved access to Veterans Treatment Courts.

    The Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act expands a VA program started in 2009. The VA administers the VJO program in all 50 states, putting social workers together with veterans via a Veterans Treatment Court to create a customized rehab program for each veteran in need of the services.

    S. 899: Veterans Providing Healthcare Transition Improvement Act

    Introduced: April 7, 2017

    Sponsored by: Sen. Mazie Hirono, Hawaii-D

    Signed into law: Sept. 7, 2018

    This amends Title 5, United States Code, “to ensure that the requirements that new Federal employees who are veterans with service-connected disabilities are provided leave for purposes of undergoing medical treatment for such disabilities apply to certain employees of the Veterans Health Administration.”

    The intent is to offer new federal hires with military service-connected disabilities time off for medical treatment; extending the policy to “all Veterans Health Administration physicians, dentists, podiatrists, chiropractors, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, and expanded-function dental auxiliaries.”

    H.R. 5515: John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019

    Introduced: April 13, 2018

    Sponsored by: Rep. Mac Thornberry, Texas-R

    Signed into law: Aug. 13, 2018

    H.R. 5515 is a funding authorization for the DoD, and military activities. It also defines “personnel strengths for Fiscal Year 2019.” Under H.R. 5515, $639.1 billion in base funding is authorized, plus another $69 billion for contingency operations. Add $8.9 billion for “mandatory defense spending” for the full total of $717 billion.

    Implications for the typical service member include a fully funded 2.6% pay raise for military members, extended special pay and bonuses to retain military members working in high-demand career fields.

    H.R. 1900: National Veterans Memorial and Museum Act

    Introduced: April 4, 2017

    Sponsored by: Rep. Steve Stivers, Ohio-R

    Signed into law: June 21, 2018

    This resolution designates the Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus, Ohio, as the “National Veterans Memorial and Museum.”

    One provision of this resolution requires the memorial and museum to submit a report to Congress prior to the redesignation. It also stipulates that the memorial and museum does not fall under the jurisdiction of the National Park system.

    H.R. 2772: SEA Act of 2018

    Introduced: June 6, 2017

    Sponsored by: Rep. Scott Taylor, Virginia-R

    Signed into law: June 21, 2018

    This House resolution requires the secretary of Veterans Affairs to “personally approve of a reassignment of VA’s approximately 350 senior executive service employees, and submit a semiannual report to congress identifying those employees.” The resolution also requires the VA secretary to identify the costs of such reassignments.

    The bill describes SES employees as a “major link between appointees and the rest of the federal workforce” as justification for the personal approval process. Such positions include most managerial, supervisory, and policy positions classified above General Schedule (GS) 15 or equivalent positions in the executive branch.

    H.R. 4910: Veterans Cemetery Benefit Correction Act

    Introduced: Jan. 30, 2018

    Sponsored by: Rep. Austin Scott, Georgia-R

    Signed into law: June 15, 2018

    This House resolution (as amended) requires “outer burial receptacles” for veterans to be provided by the Department of the Interior when veterans are buried in areas under Park Service jurisdiction. The resolution also requires these receptacles be used in accordance with VA guidelines and/or the Department of the Army.

    Under previous requirements, the VA was required to provide the outer burial receptacle to a veteran buried in a national cemetery under the control of a branch of the VA known as the National Cemetery Administration. However, burial sites under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service cemeteries were not covered under the former law that allows such compensation.

    S. 2372 VA MISSION Act of 2018

    Introduced: Feb. 5, 2018

    Sponsored by: Sen. John Isakson, Georgia-R

    Signed into law: June 6, 2018

    The VA Mission Act of 2018 (as amended by the House) consolidates several VA care programs and extends funding for the Choice Program.

    There is also a new asset and infrastructure review process “to recommend actions to modernize and realign VA’s massive medical infrastructure and also expands VA’s Family Caregiver Program” for veterans who served prior to 9/11, among other changes.

    The VA is also required under the bill to create contracts in a network of community care providers and expand treatment/coverage options for qualifying veterans.

    H.R. 3218: Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017

    Introduced: July 13, 2017

    Sponsored by: Rep. David Roe, Tennessee-R

    Signed into law: Aug. 16, 2017

    This House resolution addresses a 2008 law, which created the Post-9/11 GI Bill. H.R. 3218 updates/replaces older legislation. The Forever GI Bill, as this law has become known, is designed to expand and enhance the GI Bill program, changing rules for use and transfer of benefits to dependents and creating greater access to certain benefits designed to complement the GI Bill.

    Significant changes via this legislation include the elimination of an expiration date for veterans to use GI Bill benefits once leaving military service. Additionally, more veterans and dependents will be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program to pay for some school expenses not covered by the GI Bill. Now, surviving dependents of deceased service members and active-duty service members are both eligible to apply to receive Yellow Ribbon benefits.

    Bills Sent to Committee

    These are bills that have been introduced and have been referred to a special committee for further consideration. Once they leave the committee, they may be put to the House or Senate floor for debate or a vote before moving on to the next stage where applicable.

    None to report. A new Congress has begun, and the bill process starts all over again.

    Died in Congress

    A bill that is introduced may be allowed to languish in committee, not get a vote or be voted down depending on circumstances.

    None to report. A new Congress has begun, and the bill process starts all over again.

    Executive Orders and Other Activity

    Executive Order Extending Student Loan Moratorium Deadline

    While not directly related to GI Bill benefits or other veteran education programs, the executive order signed by President Biden in his first week in office extends a moratorium on federal student loan collection until Sept. 21, 2021.

    Student loan payments on federally owned loans are suspended, and collection actions against federal student loans are also suspended. This is good news for currently serving military members, veterans and federal employees who may owe on federal loans.

    Suspended Debt Collection for Veterans Who Owe the Department of Veterans Affairs

    In April 2020, the presidential order directed the VA to suspend VA debt collection in cases where vets owe money to the VA due to overpayments.

    These mistakes are often because of errors in computing benefit payments for things like the GI Bill or disability compensation. When those errors result in an overpayment, eventually the VA catches up with the mistake and contacts the veteran to discuss repayment.

    In the wake of the presidential order, the VA placed a notice on its Debt Management Center page, urging them to get in touch with the VA about temporary financial relief, requesting that vets wait to render payment if they have not started.

    Those who were already making payments were requested to continue doing so until the payer could discuss debt suspension with a VA representative.

    The VA later issued a notice on its official site announcing it was “suspending all actions on veteran debts under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department.”

    Legislation to Protect the GI Bill

    In March 2020, multiple bills were considered to protect GI Bill benefits during the coronavirus pandemic. House Resolution 6194 was one attempt written to allow the VA to “treat certain programs of education converted to distance learning by reason of emergencies and health-related situations.”

    This meant that, under the proposed law, the student could not be penalized for attending virtually when classes shift to distance learning as opposed to in-person. traditional classroom work. Housing stipends for Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients is lower when an all-virtual classroom situation exists, and House Resolution 6194 was an attempt to remedy that during the pandemic.

    But it was Senate Bill 3503 that eventually made it to the president’s desk to be signed into law. This bill was created for the same reasons, to safeguard GI Bill benefits while students were required to shelter in place, attend classes virtually only, etc.

    This was signed into law March 21, 2020, but more help was needed. In April 2020, the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 became law, allowing student veterans participating in work-study programs to continue to receive payments under the program, even if the student could not work due to COVID-19.

    The act also protects housing allowance payments in cases where a school closes because of COVID-19. In such cases, students also have additional resources under the act to apply to have their GI Bill benefits restored or extended.

    Policy Changes Affecting the Military Community (Nonlegislative)

    Continuous Credit Monitoring for Military Security Clearances

    Announced: August 2018

    Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

    Military members may be required to pass background checks for security clearance purposes, depending on the nature of their military jobs and the secret, top secret, or other required levels. In August 2018, the government website for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a policy change for government security clearances that required military members be subject to “continuous credit monitoring,” which means all credit activity may be reviewed at any time.

    This is designed to monitor for financial irresponsibility, high debt ratios or other negatives. Those who do not meet their financial obligations or appear to be at risk of potential compromise because of negative credit activity may jeopardize their ability to be deployed, re-enlist or keep their current security clearance. Details on the specifics of this new credit monitoring are sketchy at press time, but military members are urged to begin more aggressive credit monitoring themselves to avoid future issues with getting or maintaining a security clearance. Some sources report that financial issues made up nearly 50% of all security clearance concerns in 2017.

    Bill Glossary

    H.R. – A bill that originates in the House of Representatives.

    S. – A bill that originates in the Senate.

    H.J. Res. – A joint resolution that originates out of the House of Representatives.

    S.J. Res. – A joint resolution that originates out of the Senate.

    Two different bills can have the same number because every two years, at the start of odd-numbered years, Congress recommences numbering from onr.

    Difference between a bill and a joint resolution – There is no real difference between a joint resolution and a bill. The joint resolution is generally used for continuing or emergency appropriations. Joint resolutions are also used for proposing amendments to the Constitution.

    What Happens to Bills After Congress Adjourns?

    At the end of a two-year session, Congress adjourns “sine die,” or “without day,” and does not reconvene until a new Congress starts the next January. When Congress reconvenes, the process starts all over again. All bills are removed, and there is no pending business. All the “H.R.” and “S.” numbered titles that have been discussed and debated for the past two years are archived.

    Congressional members can reintroduce bills, but not all bills are reintroduced, particularly bills that were sponsored by members who do not return to office. These bills need a new sponsor in order to be reintroduced.

    How to Use This Page

    This page is updated as needed or when significant activity is reported. The most recent introduced, ordered reported, items that have passed the House and the Senate and await the signature of the president and signed-into-law bills and resolutions are listed first.

    Older updates follow but may not reflect the current status of the bills or resolutions listed here.

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    Written by MilitaryBenefits