Text: H.R.1492 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)

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Introduced in House (04/11/2013)


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[Congressional Bills 113th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 1492 Introduced in House (IH)]

113th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 1492

        To establish the Commission on America and its Veterans.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             April 11, 2013

 Mr. McDermott (for himself, Mr. Blumenauer, Mrs. Capps, Mr. Farr, Ms. 
 Norton, Mr. Jones, Mr. Rush, Ms. Wilson of Florida, Mr. Ryan of Ohio, 
Ms. Sinema, Mr. Enyart, Mr. Cicilline, Ms. Bordallo, Mr. Lowenthal, Mr. 
    Vargas, Mr. Grijalva, Ms. Lee of California, and Mr. McNerney) 
 introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on 
Veterans' Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, 
for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case 
for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of 
                        the committee concerned

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
        To establish the Commission on America and its Veterans.

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

SECTION 1. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.

    There is established an independent commission in the executive 
branch to be known as the ``Commission on America and its Veterans'' 
(referred to in this Act as the ``Commission'').

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) After more than a decade of war, and much work to help 
        members of the Armed Forces returning home from the 
        battlefield, the United States needs a wider and more thorough 
        process for welcoming members back, taking care of their needs, 
        and reintegrating them into society.
            (2) Many initiatives exist that provide help for the men 
        and women who have fought, but there are gaps in our support 
        for veterans that need to be addressed.
            (3) The United States has waged wars, but not all are 
        involved in fighting those wars, and the United States needs to 
        be more deeply and regularly connected with members and their 
        experiences in war and returning from war.
            (4) Veterans contribute mightily to the society of the 
        United States but many veterans endure ongoing psychological 
        trauma, challenges with employment, crime and dislocation, and 
        veterans' families and communities are also faced with the 
        after-effects of war in ways that need to be publicly 
        addressed.
            (5) The Nation needs a whole-of-society approach to 
        improving the veteran's position in society, and improving how 
        we welcome veterans when they return, and improving veterans' 
        experience when they come back, and do so in a way that helps 
        veterans, their families, and their communities.

SEC. 3. DUTIES OF COMMISSION.

    (a) In General.--The Commission shall--
            (1) not later than January 31, 2014, submit to the 
        President and Congress a report suggesting ceremonies and 
        events to be held throughout the United States to acknowledge 
        the wars recently fought and for the heroism displayed by 
        members of the Armed Forces and the costs in lives and injuries 
        paid by members, families, and communities;
            (2) not later than December 31, 2014, submit to the 
        President and Congress a report on the findings, conclusions, 
        and legislative or other recommendations of the Commission with 
        respect to any deficiency in how the United States welcomes 
        back members of the Armed Forces returning home, including--
                    (A) by studying the entirety of the reintegration 
                experience on the member, the family of the member, and 
                the community of the member to identify any such 
                deficiencies that can be addressed to make such 
                reintegration a complete and positive experience; and
                    (B) with a particular emphasis on the effects of 
                post-traumatic stress and the other social and health 
                issues of members and veterans;
            (3) not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment 
        of this Act, begin convening conversations throughout the 
        United States--
                    (A) on the effect of war on members, the families 
                of members, and the communities of members; and
                    (B) addressing the reintegration experience and the 
                gap between the military, veterans, and civilian life; 
                and
            (4) beginning on the date that is 180 days after the date 
        of the enactment of this Act, and at regular intervals 
        thereafter during the life of the Commission, including a final 
        report at the end of such life, submit to the Secretary of 
        Veterans Affairs recommendations regarding the Office of Armed 
        Services and Veterans Public Outreach established under section 
        9, including how to best conduct an ongoing interaction between 
        members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and civilians, 
        particularly with young people, in which members and veterans 
        share their stories and the effect of their service and 
        reintegration experience directly with civilians and for 
        recorded history.
    (b) Interim Reports.--The Commission may submit to the President 
and Congress interim reports containing such findings, conclusions, and 
recommendations as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission 
members.

SEC. 4. COMPOSITION OF COMMISSION.

    (a) Members.--The Commission shall be composed of 18 members as 
follows:
            (1) One member, who shall serve as chairman of the 
        Commission, shall be appointed by the President.
            (2) One member, who shall serve as vice chairman of the 
        Commission, shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of 
        Representatives.
            (3) Four members shall be appointed by the majority leader 
        of the Senate.
            (4) Four members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the 
        House of Representatives (in addition to the one member 
        appointed under paragraph (2)).
            (5) Four members shall be appointed by the minority leader 
        of the Senate.
            (6) Four members shall be appointed by the minority leader 
        of the House of Representatives.
    (b) Qualifications.--
            (1) Expertise.--Members of the Commission shall be 
        appointed from among individuals who have personally and 
        professionally experienced the effects of war on the Armed 
        Forces, families, and society.
            (2) Nongovernmental appointees.--Members of the Commission 
        may not be an officer or employee of the Federal Government.
            (3) Veterans included.--Not less than one member of the 
        Commission appointed under each of paragraphs (3) through (6) 
        of subsection (a) shall be a veteran.
            (4) Deadline for appointment.--Members of the Commission 
        shall be appointed not later than 30 days after the date of the 
        enactment of this Act.
    (c) Vacancies.--Except as provided in subsection (e)(3) with 
respect to a quorum, any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its 
powers. A vacancy in the Commission shall be filled in the manner in 
which the original appointment was made.
    (d) Compensation.--
            (1) Pay.--Except as provided by paragraph (2), members of 
        the Commission shall serve without pay.
            (2) Travel expenses.--Each member shall receive travel 
        expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in 
        accordance with applicable provisions under subchapter I of 
        chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, including section 
        5703.
    (e) Initial Meeting; Rules of Procedure; Quorum.--
            (1) Initial meeting.--The Commission shall hold the initial 
        meeting of the Commission not later than 60 days after the date 
        of the enactment of this Act.
            (2) Meetings.--After the initial meeting under paragraph 
        (1), the Commission shall meet at the call of the chairman or a 
        majority of members.
            (3) Quorum.--Ten members of the Commission shall constitute 
        a quorum but a lesser number may hold hearings.
            (4) Rules of procedure.--The Commission may establish rules 
        for the conduct of the business of the Commission, if such 
        rules are not inconsistent with this Act or other applicable 
        law.

SEC. 5. POWERS OF COMMISSION.

    (a) Hearings.--For the purpose of carrying out this Act, the 
Commission (or on the authority of the Commission, any subcommittee, 
member, or designated staff thereof), may hold such hearings and sit 
and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such 
evidence, and administer such oaths as the Commission considers 
appropriate. The Commission shall hold not less than one hearing in 
each of the several States and the District of Columbia and may hold 
hearings in any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United 
States as the Commission determines appropriate.
    (b) Contracting.--To the extent or in the amounts provided in 
advance in appropriation Acts, the Commission may enter into contracts 
to enable the Commission to carry out the responsibilities of the 
Commission under this Act.
    (c) Information From Federal Agencies.--The Commission may secure 
directly from any department or agency of the United States information 
necessary to enable it to carry out this Act. Upon request of the 
chairman of the Commission, the chairman of any subcommittee created by 
a majority of the Commission, or any member designated by a majority of 
the Commission, the head of that department or agency shall furnish 
that information to the Commission.
    (d) Assistance From Federal Agencies.--
            (1) General services administration.--Upon the request of 
        the Commission, the Administrator of General Services shall 
        provide to the Commission, on a reimbursable basis, the 
        administrative support services and other services necessary 
        for the Commission to carry out the responsibilities of the 
        Commission under this Act.
            (2) Other departments and agencies.--In addition to the 
        assistance described in paragraph (1), the head of any 
        department or agency of the United States may provide to the 
        Commission such services, funds, facilities, staff, and other 
        support services as they may determine advisable and as may be 
        authorized by law.
    (e) Gifts.--The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts, 
bequests, or devises of services or property, both real and personal, 
for the purpose of aiding or facilitating the work of the Commission. 
Gifts, bequests, or devises of money and proceeds from sales of other 
property received as gifts, bequests, or devises shall be deposited in 
the Treasury and shall be available for disbursement upon order of the 
chairman, vice chairman, or designee.
    (f) Mails.--The Commission may use the United States mails in the 
same manner and under the same conditions as other departments and 
agencies of the United States.

SEC. 6. STAFF.

    (a) In General.--
            (1) Appointment and compensation.--The chairman, in 
        accordance with rules agreed upon by the Commission, shall 
        appoint and fix the compensation of a staff director and such 
        other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to 
        carry out the responsibilities of the Commission, without 
        regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, 
        governing appointments in the competitive service, and without 
        regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of 
        chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General 
        Schedule pay rates, except that no rate of pay fixed under this 
        subsection may exceed the equivalent of that payable for a 
        position at level III of the Executive Schedule under section 
        5316 of title 5, United States Code.
            (2) Personnel as federal employees.--The executive director 
        and any employee of the Commission (not including members 
        appointed under section 4(a)) shall be employees under section 
        2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of chapters 
        63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, and 90 of that title.
    (b) Detailees.--Any employee of the Federal Government may be 
detailed by the head of the department or agency of the employee to the 
Commission without reimbursement from the Commission, and such detailee 
shall retain the rights, status, and privileges of the detailee's 
regular employment without interruption.
    (c) Expert and Consultant Services.--The Commission may procure the 
services of experts and consultants in accordance with section 3109 of 
title 5, United States Code, but at rates not to exceed the daily rate 
paid a person occupying a position at level IV of the Executive 
Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code.
    (d) Volunteer Services.--Notwithstanding section 1342 of title 31, 
United States Code, the Commission may accept and use voluntary and 
uncompensated services as the Commission determines necessary.

SEC. 7. NONAPPLICABILITY OF FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ACT.

    (a) In General.--The Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) 
shall not apply to the Commission.
    (b) Public Meetings and Release of Public Versions of Reports.--The 
Commission shall--
            (1) hold public hearings and meetings to the extent 
        appropriate; and
            (2) release public versions of the reports required under 
        section 3.
    (c) Public Hearings.--Any public hearings of the Commission shall 
be conducted in a manner consistent with the protection of information 
provided to or developed for or by the Commission as required by any 
applicable law, regulation, or Executive order.

SEC. 8. TERMINATION.

    (a) Termination.--
            (1) In general.--The Commission shall terminate on May 31, 
        2016.
            (2) Administrative activities before termination.--The 
        Commission may use the 60-day period preceding the date on 
        which it terminates under paragraph (1) for the purpose of 
        concluding its activities, including providing testimony to 
        committees of Congress concerning its reports and disseminating 
        the final report.

SEC. 9. ESTABLISHMENT OF OFFICE OF ARMED SERVICES AND VETERANS PUBLIC 
              OUTREACH.

    (a) Establishment.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
establish within the Department of Veterans Affairs an Office of Armed 
Services and Veterans Public Outreach (in this section referred to as 
the ``Office'').
    (b) Duties.--The Office shall work with the Armed Forces, veterans 
service organizations, the private and public sectors, nonprofit 
organizations, local educational agencies, and other organizations to 
help match veterans and members of the Armed Forces with civilian 
audiences in order for private and nonprofit organizations to conduct 
ongoing interactions between members, veterans, and civilians, 
particularly with young people, in which members and veterans share 
their stories and the effect of their service and reintegration 
experience directly with civilians and for recorded history.

SEC. 10. FUNDING.

    This Act shall not be construed to increase the amount of 
appropriations that are authorized to be appropriated for any fiscal 
year.

SEC. 11. VETERAN DEFINED.

    In this section, the term ``veteran'' has the meaning given that 
term in section 101(2) of title 38, United States Code.
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