4:01 PM EDT

Jeff Miller, R-FL 1st

Mr. MILLER of Florida. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 1407) to increase, effective as of December 1, 2011, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans, and for other purposes, as amended.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

The text of the bill is as follows:

H.R. 1407

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 ``Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011''.

SEC. 2. INCREASE IN RATES OF DISABILITY COMPENSATION AND DEPENDENCY AND INDEMNITY COMPENSATION.

(a) Rate Adjustment.--Effective on December 1, 2011, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall increase, in accordance with subsection (c), the dollar amounts in effect on November 30, 2011, for the payment of disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation under the provisions specified in subsection (b).

(b) Amounts To Be Increased.--The dollar amounts to be increased pursuant to subsection (a) are the following:

(1) WARTIME DISABILITY COMPENSATION.--Each of the dollar amounts under section 1114 of title 38, United States Code.

(2) ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION FOR DEPENDENTS.--Each of the dollar amounts under section 1115(1) of such title.

(3) CLOTHING ALLOWANCE.--The dollar amount under section 1162 of such title.

(4) DEPENDENCY AND INDEMNITY COMPENSATION TO SURVIVING SPOUSE.--Each of the dollar amounts under subsections (a) through (d) of section 1311 of such title.

(5) DEPENDENCY AND INDEMNITY COMPENSATION TO CHILDREN.--Each of the dollar amounts under sections 1313(a) and 1314 of such title.

(c) Determination of Increase.--

(1) PERCENTAGE.--Except as provided in paragraph (2), each dollar amount described in subsection (b) shall be increased by the same percentage as the percentage by which benefit amounts payable under title II of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 401 et seq.) are increased effective December 1, 2011, as a result of a determination under section 215(i) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 415(i)).

(2) ROUNDING.--Each dollar amount increased under paragraph (1), if not a whole dollar amount, shall be rounded to the next lower whole dollar amount.

(d) Special Rule.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may adjust administratively, consistent with the increases made under subsection (a), the rates of disability compensation payable to persons under section 10 of Public Law 85-857 (72 Stat. 1263) who have not received compensation under chapter 11 of title 38, United States Code.

SEC. 3. PUBLICATION OF ADJUSTED RATES.

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall publish in the Federal Register the amounts specified in section 2(b), as increased under that section, not later than the date on which the matters specified in section 215(i)(2)(D) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 415(i)(2)(D)) are required to be published by reason of a determination made under section 215(i) of such Act during fiscal year 2012. [Page: H3309]

SEC. 4. EXTENSION OF AUTHORITY OF THE SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TO PROVIDE SPECIALLY ADAPTED HOUSING ASSISTANCE TO INDIVIDUALS RESIDING TEMPORARILY IN HOUSING OWNED BY A FAMILY MEMBER.

(a) Short Title.--This section may be cited as the ``Andrew Connolly Veterans' Housing Act''.

(b) Extension.--Section 2102A(e) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking ``December 31, 2011'' and inserting ``December 31, 2016''.

4:01 PM EDT

Jeff Miller, R-FL 1st

Mr. MILLER of Florida. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise today in support of H.R. 1407, as amended, the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011.

This is an annual bill that authorizes a cost-of-living increase in veterans' disability compensation, veterans' clothing allowance, and dependency and indemnity compensation for veterans' survivors. This increase is tied to the increase in the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries. I'm also glad that the committee was able to include H.R. 1671, the Andrew Connolly Veterans' Housing Act, to the end of this bill at the full committee markup.

This amendment was introduced by the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. Braley). It provides a 5-year extension for the VA to provide specially adapted housing assistance to individuals residing temporarily in housing owned by a family member. Unless it is extended, this program will expire on September 30 of this year.

I urge all of my colleagues to support H.R. 1407, as amended.

I reserve the balance of my time.

4:02 PM EDT

Tim Walz, D-MN 1st

Mr. WALZ of Minnesota. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I would like to thank the chairman, the gentleman from Minnesota, for bringing this bill and the others to the floor today. It's appropriate, as we are approaching Memorial Day, that we are working to fight for our veterans. But I think that all of us who get the opportunity to work in that VA Committee know that the chairman's focus on veterans is every day of the year, not just Memorial Day, and this is certainly a good one.

I rise in wholehearted support of the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Act of 2011, as amended. While we don't control the COLA, the chairman and everyone in the committee understood how important it was to get this forward, get there with Social Security when that's enacted. It is important that these payments are made on time. This Nation has a solemn and moral responsibility to our veterans, and this is just one more way to make sure that we do what's right.

I also would like to thank the chairman for including Mr. Braley's bill, the Andrew Connolly Act. It's really important. I think all of us who heard the testimony of Mr. Connolly and his family--a true American hero, someone who is doing everything right--want to make sure that we share that pain with him and his family for the costs that he has given going to war.

That grant is intended to assist eligible veterans to adapt a family member's home to provide a barrier-free living environment, to make sure that they have the highest level of independent living as possible. And so, again, I thank you for that.

I would, if I could, for just a moment, Mr. Chairman, just put in a slight plug, if I may, for a bill I'd like to see moved with this: H.R. 1025, the bill recognizing our reservists for their service and then being able to call themselves ``veterans.'' And I want to thank the majority and minority staff working on that; keep moving that in the future if at all possible. But your unwavering support of this piece of legislation, this bill, has been absolutely necessary. We worked on it together

in committee the way it should be, and your leadership in bringing it to the floor is certainly appreciated.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

4:04 PM EDT

Jeff Miller, R-FL 1st

Mr. MILLER of Florida. I thank the gentleman for his kind words. I look forward to working with him on his issues and other bills that will come before our committee in the future.

At this time, Madam Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the chairman of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Runyan).

4:05 PM EDT

Jon Runyan, R-NJ 3rd

Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you, Chairman Miller.

Today I rise in support of H.R. 1407, as amended, the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011.

H.R. 1407, as amended, which I introduced in April, puts veterans on equal footing with Social Security beneficiaries by increasing the amount provided for disabled veterans' compensation, veterans' clothing allowance, and dependency and indemnity compensation for veterans' survivors by the amount of the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.

This annual and noncontroversial bill, which has been scored by CBO as having no budgetary impact, is a crucial part of ensuring benefits for disabled veterans and their families are sufficient to meet their needs.

H.R. 1407, as amended, also includes H.R. 1671, introduced by the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. Braley), the Andrew Connolly Veterans' Housing Act, which provides a 5-year extension to the current program set to expire on September 30.

Mr. Connolly's story demonstrates the beneficial impact specially adapted housing can have on a disabled veteran temporarily living in the house of a family member. It is important that we extend this program and continue to allow disabled veterans in similar situations adapted housing.

I urge all Members to support H.R. 1407, as amended.

4:07 PM EDT

Tim Walz, D-MN 1st

Mr. WALZ of Minnesota. Madam Speaker, I would like to also thank the distinguished gentleman from New Jersey, the chairman of the subcommittee. Thank you for your work on this. You're absolutely right. This is one that's supported; it is the work for our veterans. Together, you did a fine job of moving this through, Mr. Chairman. And we are certainly proud to support it.

I'm sorry, Mr. Miller. I tried to move you north from Florida. I just had Minnesota on my mind. This time of year, it's not bad, though.

Thank you for your work on this. It's a great bill.

I have no further requests for time, Madam Speaker, and I yield back the balance of my time.