[Congressional Record Volume 169, Number 86 (Monday, May 22, 2023)]
[House]
[Pages H2474-H2479]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                   VET-TEC AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2023

  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill 
(H.R. 1669) to amend title 38, United States Code, to make permanent 
the high technology pilot program of the Department of Veterans 
Affairs, and for other purposes, as amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 1669

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

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``VET-TEC Authorization Act of 
     2023''.

     SEC. 2. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS HIGH TECHNOLOGY 
                   PROGRAM.

       (a) High Technology Program.--
       (1) In general.--Chapter 36 of title 38, United States 
     Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new 
     section:

     ``Sec. 3699C. High technology program

       ``(a) Establishment.--(1) The Secretary shall carry out a 
     program under which the Secretary provides covered 
     individuals with the opportunity to enroll in high technology 
     programs of education that the Secretary determines provide 
     training or skills sought by employers in a relevant field or 
     industry.
       ``(2) Not more than 6,000 covered individuals may 
     participate in the program under this section in any fiscal 
     year.
       ``(b) Amount of Assistance.--(1) The Secretary shall 
     provide, to each covered individual who pursues a high 
     technology program of education under this section, 
     educational assistance in amounts equal to the amounts 
     provided under section 3313(c)(1) of this title, including 
     with respect to the housing stipend described in that section 
     and in accordance with the treatment of programs that are 
     distance learning and programs that are less than half-time.
       ``(2) Under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall provide such 
     amounts of educational assistance to a covered individual for 
     each of the following:
       ``(A) A high technology program of education.
       ``(B) A second such program if--
       ``(i) the second such program begins at least 18 months 
     after the covered individual graduates from the first such 
     program; and
       ``(ii) the covered individual uses educational assistance 
     under chapter 33 of this title to pursue the second such 
     program.
       ``(c) Contracts.--(1) For purposes of carrying out 
     subsection (a), the Secretary shall seek to enter into 
     contracts with any number of qualified providers of high 
     technology programs of education for the provision of such 
     programs to covered individuals. Each such contract shall 
     provide for the conditions under which the Secretary may 
     terminate the contract with the provider and the procedures 
     for providing for the graduation of students who were 
     enrolled in a program provided by such provider in the case 
     of such a termination.
       ``(2) A contract under this subsection shall provide that 
     the Secretary shall pay to a provider--
       ``(A) upon the enrollment of a covered individual in the 
     program, 25 percent of the cost of the tuition and other fees 
     for the program of education for the individual;
       ``(B) upon graduation of the individual from the program, 
     25 percent of such cost; and
       ``(C) 50 percent of such cost upon--
       ``(i) the successful employment of the covered individual 
     for a period--
       ``(I) of 180 days in the field of study of the program; and
       ``(II) that begins not later than 180 days following 
     graduation of the covered individual from the program;
       ``(ii) the employment of the individual by the provider for 
     a period of one year; or
       ``(iii) the enrollment of the individual in a program of 
     education to continue education in such field of study.
       ``(3) For purposes of this section, a provider of a high 
     technology program of education is qualified if--
       ``(A) the provider employs instructors whom the Secretary 
     determines are experts in their respective fields in 
     accordance with paragraph (5);
       ``(B) the provider has successfully provided the high 
     technology program for at least one year;
       ``(C) the provider does not charge tuition and fees to a 
     covered individual who receives assistance under this section 
     to pursue such program that are higher than the tuition and 
     fees charged by such provider to another individual; and
       ``(D) the provider meets the approval criteria developed by 
     the Secretary under paragraph (4).
       ``(4)(A) The Secretary shall prescribe criteria for 
     approving providers of a high technology program of education 
     under this section.
       ``(B) In developing such criteria, the Secretary may 
     consult with State approving agencies.
       ``(C) Such criteria are not required to meet the 
     requirements of section 3672 of this title.
       ``(D) Such criteria shall include the job placement rate, 
     in the field of study of a program of education, of covered 
     individuals who complete such program of education.
       ``(5) The Secretary shall determine whether instructors are 
     experts under paragraph (3)(A) based on evidence furnished to 
     the Secretary by the provider regarding the ability of the 
     instructors to--
       ``(A) identify professions in need of new employees to 
     hire, tailor the programs to meet market needs, and identify 
     the employers likely to hire graduates;
       ``(B) effectively teach the skills offered to covered 
     individuals;
       ``(C) provide relevant industry experience in the fields of 
     programs offered to incoming covered individuals; and
       ``(D) demonstrate relevant industry experience in such 
     fields of programs.
       ``(6) In entering into contracts under this subsection, the 
     Secretary shall give preference to a provider of a high 
     technology program of education--
       ``(A) from which at least 70 percent of graduates find 
     full-time employment in the field of study of the program 
     during the 180-day period beginning on the date the student 
     graduates from the program; or
       ``(B) that offers tuition reimbursement for any student who 
     graduates from such a program and does not find employment 
     described in subparagraph (A).
       ``(d) Effect on Other Entitlement.--(1) If a covered 
     individual enrolled in a high technology program of education 
     under this section has remaining entitlement to educational 
     assistance under chapter 30, 32, 33, 34, or 35 of this title, 
     entitlement of the individual to educational assistance under 
     this section shall be charged at the rate of one month of 
     such remaining entitlement for each such month of educational 
     assistance under this section.

[[Page H2475]]

       ``(2) The Secretary may not consider enrollment in a high 
     technology program of education under this section to be 
     assistance under a provision of law referred to in section 
     3695 of this title.
       ``(e) Requirements for Educational Institutions.--(1) The 
     Secretary shall not approve the enrollment of any covered 
     individual, not already enrolled, in any high technology 
     programs of education under this section for any period 
     during which the Secretary finds that more than 85 percent of 
     the students enrolled in the program are having all or part 
     of their tuition, fees, or other charges paid to or for them 
     by the educational institution or by the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs under this title or under chapter 1606 or 
     1607 of title 10, except with respect to tuition, fees, or 
     other charges that are paid under a payment plan at an 
     educational institution that the Secretary determines has a 
     history of offering payment plans that are completed not 
     later than 180 days after the end of the applicable term, 
     quarter, or semester.
       ``(2) The Secretary may waive a requirement of paragraph 
     (1) if the Secretary determines, pursuant to regulations 
     which the Secretary shall prescribe, such waiver to be in the 
     interest of the covered individual and the Federal 
     Government. Not later than 30 days after the Secretary waives 
     such a requirement, the Secretary shall submit to the 
     Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and House of 
     Representatives a report regarding such waiver.
       ``(3)(A)(i) The Secretary shall establish and maintain a 
     process by which an educational institution may request a 
     review of a determination that the educational institution 
     does not meet the requirements of paragraph (1).
       ``(ii) The Secretary may consult with a State approving 
     agency regarding such process or such a review.
       ``(iii) Not later than 180 days after the Secretary 
     establishes or revises a process under this subparagraph, the 
     Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs 
     of the Senate and House of Representatives a report regarding 
     such process.
       ``(B) An educational institution that requests a review 
     under subparagraph (A)--
       ``(i) shall request the review not later than 30 days after 
     the start of the term, quarter, or semester for which the 
     determination described in subparagraph (A) applies; and
       ``(ii) may include any information that the educational 
     institution believes the Department should have taken into 
     account when making the determination, including with respect 
     to any mitigating circumstances.
       ``(f) Annual Reports.--Not later than one year after the 
     date of the enactment of this section, and annually 
     thereafter until the termination date specified in subsection 
     (i), the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on 
     Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives 
     a report on the operation of program under this section 
     during the year covered by the report. Each such report shall 
     include each of the following:
       ``(1) The number of covered individuals enrolled in the 
     program, disaggregated by type of educational institution, 
     during the year covered by the report.
       ``(2) The number of covered individuals who completed a 
     high technology program of education under the program during 
     the year covered by the report.
       ``(3) The average employment rate of covered individuals 
     who completed such a program of education during such year, 
     as of 180 days after the date of completion.
       ``(4) The average length of time between the completion of 
     such a program of education and employment.
       ``(5) The total number of covered individuals who completed 
     a program of education under the program and who, as of the 
     date of the submission of the report, are employed in a 
     position related to technology.
       ``(6) The average salary of a covered individual who 
     completed a program of education under the program and who is 
     employed in a position related to technology, in various 
     geographic areas determined by the Secretary.
       ``(7) The average salary of all individuals employed in 
     positions related to technology in the geographic areas 
     determined under subparagraph (F), and the difference, if 
     any, between such average salary and the average salary of a 
     covered individual who completed a program of education under 
     the program and who is employed in a position related to 
     technology.
       ``(8) The number of covered individuals who completed a 
     program of education under the program and who subsequently 
     enrolled in a second program of education under the program.
       ``(g) Collection of Information; Consultation.--(1) The 
     Secretary shall develop practices to use to collect 
     information about covered individuals and providers of high 
     technology programs of education.
       ``(2) For the purpose of carrying out program under this 
     section, the Secretary may consult with providers of high 
     technology programs of education and may establish an 
     advisory group made up of representatives of such providers, 
     private employers in the technology field, and other relevant 
     groups or entities, as the Secretary determines necessary.
       ``(h) Definitions.--In this section:
       ``(1) The term `covered individual' means any of the 
     following:
       ``(A) A veteran whom the Secretary determines--
       ``(i) served an aggregate of at least 36 months on active 
     duty in the Armed Forces (including service on active duty in 
     entry level and skill training) and was discharged or 
     released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable; 
     and
       ``(ii) has not attained the age of 62.
       ``(B) A member of the Armed Forces that the Secretary 
     determines will become a veteran described in subparagraph 
     (A) fewer than 180 days after the date of such determination.
       ``(2) The term `high technology program of education' means 
     a program of education--
       ``(A) offered by a public or private educational 
     institution;
       ``(B) if offered by an institution of higher learning, that 
     is provided directly by such institution rather than by an 
     entity other than such institution under a contract or other 
     agreement;
       ``(C) that does not lead to a degree;
       ``(D) that has a term of not less than six and not more 
     than 28 weeks; and
       ``(E) that provides instruction in computer programming, 
     computer software, media application, data processing, or 
     information sciences.
       ``(i) Termination.--The authority to carry out a program 
     under this section shall terminate on September 30, 2028.''.
       (2) Clerical amendment.--The table of sections at the 
     beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the 
     item relating to section 3699B the following new item:

``3699C. High technology program.''.
       (b) Effect on High Technology Pilot Program.--Section 116 
     of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act 
     of 2017 (Public Law 115-48; 38 U.S.C. 3001 note) is amended--
       (1) in subsection (g), by striking paragraph (6); and
       (2) by striking subsection (h) and inserting the following 
     new subsection (h):
       ``(h) Termination.--The authority to carry out a pilot 
     program under this section shall terminate on September 30, 
     2023.''.
       (c) Approval of Certain High Technology Programs.--Section 
     3680A of title 38, United States Code, is amended--
       (1) in subsection (a), by striking paragraph (4) and 
     inserting the following:
       ``(4) Any independent study program except--
       ``(A) an independent study program (including such a 
     program taken over open circuit television) that--
       ``(i) is accredited by an accrediting agency or association 
     recognized by the Secretary of Education under subpart 2 of 
     part H of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 
     U.S.C. 1099b);
       ``(ii) leads to--

       ``(I) a standard college degree;
       ``(II) a certificate that reflects educational attainment 
     offered by an institution of higher learning; or
       ``(III) a certificate that reflects graduation from a 
     course of study offered by--

       ``(aa) an area career and technical education school (as 
     defined in subparagraphs (C) and (D) of section 3(3) of the 
     Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 
     (20 U.S.C. 2302(3))) that provides education at the 
     postsecondary level; or
       ``(bb) a postsecondary vocational institution (as defined 
     in section 102(c) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 
     U.S.C. 1002(c))) that provides education at the postsecondary 
     level; and
       ``(iii) in the case of a program described in clause 
     (ii)(III)--

       ``(I) provides training aligned with the requirements of 
     employers in the State or local area where the program is 
     located, which may include in-demand industry sectors or 
     occupations;
       ``(II) provides a student, upon graduation from the 
     program, with a recognized postsecondary credential that is 
     recognized by employers in the relevant industry, which may 
     include a credential recognized by industry or sector 
     partnerships in the State or local area where the industry is 
     located; and
       ``(III) meets such content and instructional standards as 
     may be required to comply with the criteria under section 
     3676(c)(14) and (15) of this title; or

       ``(B) an online high technology program of education (as 
     defined in subsection (h)(2) of section 3699C of this 
     title)--
       ``(i) the provider of which has entered into a contract 
     with the Secretary under subsection (c) of such section;
       ``(ii) that has been provided to covered individuals (as 
     defined in subsection (h)(1) of such section) under such 
     contract for a period of at least five years;
       ``(iii) regarding which the Secretary has determined that 
     the average employment rate of covered individuals who 
     graduated from such program of education is 65 percent or 
     higher for the year preceding such determination; and
       ``(iv) that satisfies the requirements of subsection (e) of 
     such section.''; and
       (2) in subsection (d), by adding at the end the following:
       ``(8) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to the enrollment of a 
     veteran in an online high technology program described in 
     subsection (a)(4)(B).''.
       (d) Effective Date.--The amendments made by subsections (a) 
     and (c) shall take effect on October 1, 2023.

     SEC. 3. BURIAL ALLOWANCE FOR CERTAIN VETERANS WHO DIE AT HOME 
                   WHILE IN RECEIPT OF HOSPICE CARE FURNISHED BY 
                   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

       (a) In General.--Subsection (a)(2)(A) of section 2303 of 
     title 38, United States Code, is further amended--
       (1) in clause (i), by striking ``; or'' and inserting a 
     semicolon;
       (2) in clause (ii)(III), by striking the period at the end 
     and inserting ``; or''; and
       (3) by adding at the end the following new clause:
       ``(iii) a home or other setting at which the deceased 
     veteran was, at the time of death, receiving hospice care 
     pursuant to section 1717(a) of this title if such care was 
     directly preceded by the Secretary furnishing to the veteran 
     hospital care or nursing home care described in subclause 
     (I), (II), or (III) of clause (ii).''.
       (b) Applicability.--The amendments made by subsection (a) 
     shall take effect on the date of

[[Page H2476]]

     the enactment of this Act and apply with respect to deaths 
     occurring on or after the date that is 180 days after the 
     date of the enactment of this Act.

     SEC. 4. INCLUSION OF NON-DEGREE FLIGHT TRAINING IN CERTAIN 
                   REHABILITATION PROGRAMS FOR CERTAIN VETERANS 
                   WITH SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABILITIES.

       Section 3101 of title 38, United States Code, is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (7), by adding at the end the following: 
     ``A rehabilitation program may include a program that 
     includes flight training and does not lead to a degree.''; 
     and
       (2) by redesignating the first paragraph (10) as paragraph 
     (1).

     SEC. 5. SOLE LIABILITY FOR TRANSFERRED EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE 
                   BY AN INDIVIDUAL WHO FAILS TO COMPLETE A 
                   SERVICE AGREEMENT.

       Subsection (i) of section 3319 of title 38, United States 
     Code, is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (1)--
       (A) by striking ``In the event'' and inserting ``Subject to 
     paragraph (2), in the event''; and
       (B) by inserting ``of this title'' after ``section 3685'';
       (2) in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2)--
       (A) in the heading, by striking ``In general'' and 
     inserting ``Sole liability''; and
       (B) by striking ``under paragraph (1)'' and inserting ``for 
     which the individual shall be solely liable to the United 
     States for the amount of the overpayment for purposes of 
     section 3685 of this title''; and
       (3) in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (2)--
       (A) in the matter preceding clause (i), by striking 
     ``Subparagraph (A) shall not apply'' and inserting ``Neither 
     the individual nor the dependent shall be liable to the 
     United States for the amount of the overpayment for purposes 
     of section 3685 of this title''; and
       (B) in clause (ii), by inserting ``of this title'' after 
     ``section 3311(c)(4)''.

     SEC. 6. INCREASE OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 
                   EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE FOR PROGRAMS OF 
                   EDUCATION IN REPUBLIC OF PHILIPPINES.

       (a) Short Title.--This section may be cited as the 
     ``Filipino Education Fairness Act''.
       (b) Increase.--Section 3532 of title 38, United States 
     Code, is amended--
       (1) by striking subsection (d); and
       (2) by resdesignating subsections (e) through (g) as 
     subsections (d) through (f), respectively.

     SEC. 7. PROVISION OF CERTIFICATES OF ELIGIBILITY AND AWARD 
                   LETTERS USING ELECTRONIC MEANS.

       Chapter 36 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by 
     inserting after section 3698 the following new section (and 
     conforming the table of sections at the beginning of such 
     chapter accordingly):

     ``Sec. 3698A. Provision of certificates of eligibility and 
       award letters using electronic means

       ``(a) Requirement.--Except as provided by subsection (b), 
     the Secretary shall provide to an individual the following 
     documents using electronic means:
       ``(1) A certificate of eligibility for the entitlement of 
     the individual to covered educational assistance.
       ``(2) An award letter regarding the authorization of the 
     individual to receive covered educational assistance.
       ``(b) Election To Opt Out.--An individual may elect to 
     receive the documents specified in subsection (a) by mail 
     rather than through electronic means under subsection (a). An 
     individual may revoke such an election at any time, by means 
     prescribed by the Secretary.
       ``(c) Covered Educational Assistance.--In this section, the 
     term `covered educational assistance' means educational 
     assistance under chapter 30, 33, or 35, or section 3699C, of 
     this title.''.

     SEC. 8. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS HOUSING LOAN FEES.

       The loan fee table in section 3729(b)(2) of title 38, 
     United States Code, is amended by striking ``November 14, 
     2031'' each place it appears and inserting ``April 30, 
     2032''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Bost) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Takano) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois.


                             General Leave

  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 
5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks on H.R. 
1669, as amended.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Illinois?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of Representative Ciscomani's 
bill, H.R. 1669, as amended. The bill would enhance the fund, the VET-
TEC pilot program at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VET-TEC 
pilot program was coauthored by Speaker McCarthy and Congressman Ro 
Khanna in the Forever GI Bill in 2017.
  Now, this program provides post-9/11 GI Bill-style benefits to 
veterans so they can attend short-term training that leads to jobs in 
the information technology sector. The education and employment program 
has been a wildly successful program. It has helped thousands of 
veterans not only find a job, but a career and a promising future in 
the technology sector.
  This program is an example of a government program that truly works 
for our veterans. VET-TEC has an 80 percent graduation rate, a 62 
percent employment rate, and an average salary of $65,000 a year. 
Veterans using this program are going into careers with the best tech 
companies in the world.
  The reason this program works as well as it has, I think, is that the 
schools only receive the full amount of the tuition and fees when the 
student gets a job in the tech industry.
  Now, this level of accountability is honestly something I think we 
should be looking at for other Federal Government programs. Thousands 
of veterans achieving the career of their dreams has proven to me that 
it is time to expand VET-TEC.
  Now, Representative Ciscomani's bill makes important changes to the 
pilot program to make it even stronger so that it can continue to help 
even more veterans find their American Dream. Improving VET-TEC program 
has the full support of the VA and many veteran service organizations.
  Three weeks ago, VET-TEC providers told us that the program had run 
out of funds and they are no longer allowed to accept new students. 
Over 2,500 student veterans will miss out on the chance for a better 
career this year if Congress is unable to fix this problem. It goes 
without saying, the time is short and the need to help our veterans 
continue to access this training is great.
  Even with record-high inflation and soaring interest rates, because 
of the Biden administration, veterans using this program have shown 
that they can still achieve high-paying jobs.
  Representative Ciscomani's bill, as amended, also includes several 
other bipartisan bills, including General Jack Bergman's bill, H.R. 
234, which would allow survivors of veterans to receive the burial 
allowance benefit if their loved one passes away at home while 
receiving VA Hospice care, rather than in a VA facility.
  Representative Arrington's bill, H.R. 1169, would also allow veterans 
to receive their GI Bill electronic notifications virtually.
  Representative Obernolte's bill, H.R. 746, would include nondegreed 
pilot programs into the Veterans Readiness and Employment program.
  Representative Van Orden's bill, H.R. 1798, would protect the spouses 
of servicemembers from GI Bill debt.
  Representative Kiggan's bill, H.R. 1635, would eliminate a nearly 70-
year-old rule that limits the GI Bill payments that survivors and 
dependents receive in the Philippines.
  With the inclusion of these bills in H.R. 1669, we would make great 
improvements in how our veterans can use the GI Bill benefits.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the Student Veterans of America, Veterans of 
Foreign War, The American Legion, the VET-TEC Working Group, and 
Disabled American Veterans for supporting the proposed legislation 
today.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1669, as amended.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. TAKANO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the VET-TEC Authorization Act of 
2023, as amended. In 2020, when our country experienced record 
unemployment, VET-TEC was a bright spot of veteran employment.
  To date, nearly 5,000 veterans have found employment from the program 
at a salary of over $65,000 a year.
  Today, veterans are employed at record-high levels. The Biden economy 
has brought veteran unemployment to the lowest level ever on record. 
Let me say that again. The Biden economy has brought veteran 
unemployment to the lowest level ever on record.
  The legislation before us adds 5 more years to the VET-TEC program, 
providing VA an additional $337 million to get more veterans hired in 
the high-technology field.
  This program was created by Speaker McCarthy in the Forever GI Bill, 
and I respect the fact that it is a big priority for the Speaker and my 
friend Chairman Bost. While I support the legislation, I wish to share 
my concern about moving a bill with such a large cost

[[Page H2477]]

when we have so many provisions awaiting action by this Congress. The 
$413 million price tag of this bill dwarfs the costs of many of the 
bills we must pass to address veteran homelessness.
  This is an expensive bill in a fiscally uncertain time. While we all 
appreciate veteran employment programs, veteran unemployment is the 
lowest ever on record. A VET-TEC extension is nice to have, but with 
veterans experiencing homelessness and food insecurity, there is action 
on those programs that we must have.
  As ranking member of this committee, I have the responsibility of 
weighing priorities and choosing between worthy policies that help 
veterans. I know the chairman and his colleagues on our committee share 
my goal of ending veteran homelessness.
  When we considered this legislation in our committee, I offered an 
amendment to this legislation to make permanent some basic authorities 
which lowered veteran homelessness by 11 percent during a public health 
emergency. This amendment cost only $6 million in mandatory spending.
  Last year, the chairman himself made it clear: ``No veteran should be 
without a place to call home. I am glad that the most recent estimate 
showed fewer veterans living in homeless shelters last year. That is 
why we must continue our work to ensure that the rubber is meeting the 
road and every veteran has access to safe, stable housing and the help 
they need to thrive.''
  Chairman Bost is correct. The work must continue. We must continue 
the ongoing work, which has already helped so many veterans and can 
help so many more.
  The reason given for not moving this bill was that it implicates the 
Toxic Exposure Fund, or TEF. I understand the chairman is concerned 
about how the Congressional Budget Office scores bills with TEF 
implications. I am concerned too, and I have spoken extensively on 
this.
  However, there has yet to be a solution proposed for the TEF that 
does not undermine its purpose, which is to protect funding for toxic-
exposed veterans and acknowledge this as a cost of war.
  In light of this, I am asking that we come together and work on 
mutual priorities so that we can responsibly and equitably pass 
legislation using the limited offsets available to us.
  I think the chairman believes, as do I, that providing basic needs 
for homeless veterans deserves to be on that priority list.
  Therefore, I ask my colleague, the chairman, if he will commit to 
bringing Representative Cherfilus-McCormick's bill, H.R. 645, to the 
floor without delay,
  Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of a colloquy, I yield to the gentleman 
from Illinois (Mr. Bost), and ask if he will commit to this.
  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, while I understand the concerns expressed by 
the minority, I point out that the program has been a huge success in 
helping veterans gain meaningful employment.
  We have been very successful in recent years in reducing veterans' 
unemployment, and now is not the time for us to take our foot off the 
gas. I believe a successful education program, such as this one, is one 
of the best ways to reduce veteran homelessness.
  Mr. Speaker, I would also point out that the minority has had ample 
time and opportunity to express their concerns of legislation hearing 
on this bill.
  Mr. TAKANO. Mr. Speaker, I am reclaiming my time.
  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, I am getting to my answer.
  Mr. TAKANO. Mr. Speaker, I was waiting for the answer.
  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, they were also given a chance to submit markup 
at a full committee markup, and yet, the first time I have heard these 
concerns was late last week.
  The bill, through regular order, as amended, was offered for the 
minority Representative, Mr. McGarvey, to reduce the length of time in 
the program. That amendment was accepted and included in the bill.
  The length of the program was subject to bipartisan agreement. I 
recognize that the minority has valid concerns about spending and 
limited resources that we have worked with. The problem was made worse 
with the passage of the Toxic Exposure Fund, the PACT Act, that 
requires mandatory spending for many of the VA programs.
  Mr. Speaker, I repeat my plea that my friends on the other side of 
the aisle join me in developing a resolution to the issue.
  Mr. TAKANO. Mr. Speaker, I reclaim my time.
  Mr. BOST: Mr. Speaker, I am committed to addressing the veterans 
homelessness.

                              {time}  1700

  Mr. TAKANO. Mr. Speaker, I am reclaiming my time.
  I simply ask the gentleman whether he will work with us to bring Mrs. 
Cherfilus-McCormick's bill to the floor. That is the question that I 
will yield for an answer.
  Will the gentleman work with us?
  I yield to the gentleman from Illinois.
  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, I will address veterans homelessness, as I 
have always said I would. It is very concerning to me. We are currently 
working on a package to address the issue, but I am not going to pit 
one group of veterans against another. I would like my friends in the 
minority to work with me to develop legislation to address veteran 
homelessness in a bipartisan, fiscally responsible way over the next 
few months.
  The answer is yes, we will work with you, but we have got to actually 
sit down and work together to figure out the problem of the expense and 
knowing how it is and where it is that we make the investment that 
still balances. That is the answer that I will give to the gentleman.
  Mr. TAKANO. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time.
  I am grateful that I hear some kernel that they will work with us in 
a bipartisan way. What does worry me is the gentleman mentioned over 
the next few months. I can maybe tolerate the next few months in terms 
of can we come to an agreement by the fall when the temperatures start 
to fall, but even the hot summers, in some parts of the country, would 
require us to work much more expeditiously.
  These pandemic authorities that expanded our ability to help veterans 
who are homeless expired on May 11. For the last 11 days, VA and its 
community partners have operated with fewer authorities and less 
funding to help homeless veterans.
  VA's ability to quickly bring a veteran in off the streets and get 
them the services they need to put them on their way to stable, 
permanent housing has been greatly diminished.
  Prior to the pandemic, we were maintaining the status quo. The number 
of veterans experiencing homelessness had remained basically stagnant 
year after year for quite some time. For every veteran housed, another 
veteran would fall into homelessness.
  During the pandemic we approached the homelessness crisis head on and 
with the urgency it has long deserved. It is incredible to me that we 
were able to reduce homelessness during COVID-19 by 11 percent. During 
the darkest days of that pandemic, VA actually reduced homelessness by 
11 percent. It permanently housed over 40,000 veterans last year alone. 
We know these authorities accelerated VA's progress in ending veteran 
homelessness, and we can't lose that momentum.
  I am pleased to hear the chairman wants to work together to extend 
these authorities and get homeless veterans into housing.
  Mr. Speaker, I just say let's prioritize H.R. 645 in the coming days, 
not the coming months, and I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, I will, and we will, work on this priority. 
What we can do is chew gum and walk at the same time, and that means we 
can go ahead and not only work on homelessness but also this bill, as 
important as it is. I appreciate the gentleman's concern, but believe 
me, our side of the aisle has just as much concern about our homeless 
veterans.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Iowa (Mrs. 
Miller-Meeks).
  Mrs. MILLER-MEEKS. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Bost for yielding me 
time.
  As a 24-year Army veteran, I understand the importance of improving 
services for veterans as they transition to civilian life. VET-TEC is a 
pilot program that started under President Trump and was led by Speaker 
McCarthy. Let me repeat that. VET-TEC is a

[[Page H2478]]

highly popular and successful program that was started under President 
Trump that allows eligible veterans to use GI Bill-style benefits to 
attend innovative job training programs to prepare them for future 
employment in the technology industry.
  Through this program, veterans can get training in high-demand areas, 
including computer software, computer programming, data processing, 
information science, and media applications. In addition to this, 
employment may help prevent and treat homelessness. We have seen 62 
percent employment and $65,000 per year average salaries.
  I am grateful that my colleague, Representative Ciscomani, introduced 
this important piece of legislation, which will help grow our economy 
and get veterans back to work. As a physician, it is no small aside 
that the dignity of working and having a purpose in life may also help 
improve mental health, which may also help improve homelessness.
  The VET-TEC Authorization Act proves our commitment not only to 
maintaining funding levels but increasing support for veterans.
  Last Congress, I led legislation to extend this important program, 
and I am proud to support this legislation today. This program has been 
widely popular and successful, and this is exactly the type of 
taxpayer-funded program that we can all support.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this important 
legislation.
  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Arizona (Mr. Ciscomani), the sponsor of the main part of this bill.
  Mr. CISCOMANI. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Bost for yielding me 
time to talk about this important bill.
  I am grateful that my bill, H.R. 1669, the VET-TEC Authorization Act, 
is being considered today on the House floor. This bipartisan effort 
would extend the invaluable program for our veterans, the Veteran 
Employment Through Technology Education Courses, or VET-TEC program.
  The VET-TEC pilot program allows eligible veterans to gain experience 
and training in high-demand tech jobs. Since the start of the VET-TEC 
program in 2019, introduced by Speaker McCarthy, over 12,000 veterans 
have completed the program in areas like computer programming, software 
development, data processing, and other in-demand careers. This is 
crucial to strengthening our American workforce, while enabling our 
vets to have a clear shot at the American Dream, a dream they have 
fought to protect for so many of us.

  Of the veterans that completed the program, roughly 62 percent were 
offered a job related to the training they received, with an average 
salary of around $65,000 a year. These results show that the program 
works, and by extending the program, we will ensure veterans will be 
able to participate in the program in the coming years. Not only has 
this program been beneficial for our veterans, but it is crucial for 
our employers, as well. We need a skilled workforce working in the tech 
industry, and our veterans are the perfect fit.
  I am proud to have partnered with Chairman Bost and Congressman 
Khanna on this legislation, and I look forward to working with my 
colleagues to ensure the men and women who served our country can 
continue to grow in the civilian workforce, as well.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge all my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this bill 
today.
  Mr. TAKANO. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Khanna), my friend and colleague from my home State who 
serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Oversight Committee.
  Mr. KHANNA. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Takano for his 
leadership. I am glad that veterans can still bring this House 
together.
  Mr. Speaker, I was honored to work with Speaker McCarthy back in 2017 
on the pilot program, which has been a resounding success to provide 
veterans who serve this Nation with a technology skill so they can get 
jobs when they are back in the United States.
  There was an 84 percent graduation rate, 12,000 veterans have been 
helped by this program, and the average salary was $65,000. These are 
the types of things that we need to do in the House, bringing the House 
together to actually improve veterans' lives.
  I appreciate Representative Ciscomani's leadership, and I look 
forward to this program being permanent and hopefully expanded so 
veterans who serve our Nation, who do the highest duty, have the 
opportunity to have secure livings when they are back at home.
  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Michigan (Mr. Bergman).
  Mr. BERGMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for all of his support 
for these bills that not only make life better for the veterans but 
also for their families.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 1669, the VET-TEC 
Authorization Act, which, as amended, includes the text of legislation 
I originally introduced as H.R. 234, Gerald's Law.
  Gerald's Law was drafted and introduced on behalf of Gerald Elliott, 
a U.S. Army veteran and a resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, 
as well as on behalf of his family and the thousands of other veterans 
like him.
  A lifelong Yooper, Jerry was a member of The American Legion Post 363 
and was an active volunteer with U.P. Honor Flight and the Iron 
Mountain VA Hospital.
  After a cancer diagnosis in 2019, Gerald received his care at the 
Iron Mountain VA. As the disease progressed and he was placed on 
hospice care, he decided to go home to enjoy his final days with his 
family.
  Following his death, Jerry's family discovered that even though he 
received hospice care through the VA, his family did not qualify for 
burial benefits after his death; that is, burial benefits for Jerry 
himself. That is because under current law, VA hospice care provided at 
home does not qualify as a death under VA care and is, therefore, not 
covered under the nonservice-connected burial and plot benefit.
  As a result of this quirk, if a veteran with a terminal illness wants 
the full burial benefit, they would be forced to die in a hospital or 
nursing home under the VA auspices instead of transferring to home 
hospice care. This is just, I am sure, a mistake. This injustice is 
unacceptable and unconscionable.
  No veteran should worry about losing VA benefits for their family 
when choosing to spend their final days in the comfort of their own 
home. Gerald's Law will address this by extending VA burial allowance 
eligibility to veterans whose passing occurs at home while receiving VA 
hospice care if they were previously receiving VA hospital or nursing 
home care.
  I am thankful for the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs for their 
work to assist the thousands of veterans and family members being 
denied benefits due to this legislative oversight.
  H.R. 1669, which includes Gerald's Law and other bipartisan, 
commonsense reforms, was approved unanimously by the committee in 
April.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge every Member of Congress, every Member of the 
House, to support its passage on the House floor today.
  Mr. TAKANO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I commend General Bergman for the section of the VET-TEC bill which 
includes addressing this issue related to burials and the cost that the 
veteran's family has to bear, but I find it peculiar that the majority 
would take pains to include this legislation, which I have no quarrel 
with and support, but could not deal with and chose not to deal with 
the expiring authorities to deal with our homeless veterans.
  Americans care deeply about the homeless veterans in our country and 
are offended that we would have anybody who wore the uniform of the 
United States be homeless.
  There are elements of this bill that came up in markup. They brought 
the bill to the floor, the VET-TEC bill, which includes many elements, 
but they specifically chose to leave out addressing the expiring 
authorities that we have used to bring down homelessness by 11 percent. 
I am afraid we are going to lose momentum.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, one thing that needs to be very, very clear, 
the Bergman bill does not have a TEF issue, a toxic exposure fund 
issue. That is where the concerns are.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

[[Page H2479]]

  


                              {time}  1715

  Mr. TAKANO. Mr. Speaker, I realize the chairman and all of us in the 
veteran space have had our differences with the way the Congressional 
Budget Office scores the TEF. However, I would assert that we cannot 
use that as an excuse for why we don't address veteran homelessness.
  Mr. Speaker, the expansion of VET-TEC as a program is to the tune of 
nearly one-half billion dollars--$413 million--at a time when my 
colleagues on the other side are looking to make draconian cuts to the 
nondefense side of the ledger, which veterans do fall within. They are 
expanding a program that addresses veteran employment at a time when 
veteran unemployment is at its lowest.
  What I want to compare is the $6 million to the nearly one-half 
billion dollars that the Republicans want to expand this program by. I, 
too, stand behind veteran employment programs and effective ones at 
that. However, should we be expanding it and authorizing for 5 years 
this program, VET-TEC, when we are allowing a $6 million program to 
care for homeless veterans, to get them off the streets, to expire?
  It is a rather rich situation that my colleagues want to expand 
spending and spend more on a program whose urgency is really in 
question because the Biden economy, as I explained, has brought veteran 
unemployment to its lowest levels ever. They want to expand spending in 
that program by an enormous amount, yet they want to eliminate $6 
million in authorizations to take care of our homeless veterans. This 
makes no sense at all to me.
  I support the chairman's bill, but I hope he will work with us to 
solve this problem in a matter of days and not months.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  Mr. Speaker, I am going to say a couple of things that I have said on 
this House floor before. I am going to say them again.
  The gentleman referred to our cutting veterans. Actually, we are 
increasing over the President's budget. We will get more into that 
later this week in committee.
  Let me also say this, Mr. Speaker. I will repeat my plea right now 
that our friends on the other side of the aisle join me in developing a 
solution to an issue that he has decided is not anything more than a 
political ploy, trying to say that we are going to cut benefits by 
straightening this problem out.
  We are not. We will not. Let me say this again on this floor: 
Veterans are not being cut, period.
  This is a good piece of legislation. It is bipartisan.
  Mr. Speaker, I encourage all the people on our side of the aisle and 
on both sides of the aisle to support this legislation, and I yield 
back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Yakym). The question is on the motion 
offered by the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Bost) that the House 
suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 1669, as amended.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this motion will be postponed.

                          ____________________