Jurisdiction

The Veterans’ Affairs committee was created in 1970 to transfer responsibilities for veterans from the Finance and Labor committees to a single panel. From 1947 to 1970, matters relating to veterans compensation and veterans generally were referred to the Committee on Finance, while matters relating to the vocational rehabilitation, education, medical care, civil relief, and civilian readjustment of veterans were referred to the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare.

Congressional legislation affecting veterans changed over the years. For the members of the armed forces and their families in the nation’s early wars — the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War — the response of the federal government had been essentially financial. This was clearly the legislative mission of the Senate Committee on Pensions which was created as one of the Senate’s original standing committees in 1816 and continued until its termination in the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946.

During World War I the nature of the congressional response to veterans’ needs changed towards a more diversified set of programs. A war risk insurance program, which was referred to the Senate Finance Committee, changed the consideration of veterans benefits in the Senate. The Finance Committee was the Senate standing committee most responsible for veterans programs from 1917 to 1946. After World War II, the Finance Committee handled the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, the “GI Bill of Rights,” which extended to servicemen and their families, a number of benefits including unemployment assistance, education, vocational training, housing and business loan guarantees, as well as the traditional medical and pension benefits of previous times. Many experts believe this law was one of the most important elements in the expansion of the middle class following World War II.

The Veterans Affairs Committee had nine members in its initial congress, the 92nd Congress (1971-73). It now has a total of 15 members with Chairman Johnny Isakson and Ranking Member Richard Blumenthal in leadership roles during the 114th Congress.

Past Chairmen of the Committee are:

Sen. Vance Hartke (D-Indiana)

Sen. Alan Cranston (D-California)

Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming)

Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska)

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia)

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) 

Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho)

Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii)

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont)

Legislation

 

Last Action

Bill

Title

S.410 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the transfer of unused Post-9/11 Educational Assistance benefits to additional dependents upon the death of the originally designated dependent.
S.423 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase the maximum age for children eligible for medical care under the CHAMPVA program, and for other purposes.
S.426 A bill to increase educational assistance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs for education and training of physician assistants of the Department, to establish pay grades and require competitive pay for physician assistants of the Department, and for other purposes.
S.422 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes.
H.R.512 To amend title 38, United States Code, to permit veterans to grant access to their records in the databases of the Veterans Benefits Administration to certain designated congressional employees, and for other purposes.
H.R.609 To designate the Department of Veterans Affairs health care center in Center Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, as the “Abie Abraham VA Clinic”.
H.R.974 BRAVE Act
S.369 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in awarding a contract for the procurement of goods or services, to give a preference to offerors that employ veterans, and for other purposes.
S.336 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to modify authorities relating to the collective bargaining of employees in the Veterans Health Administration, and for other purposes.
S.324 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the provision of adult day health care services for veterans.
S.315 A bill to direct the Secretary of the Army to place in Arlington National Cemetery a monument honoring the helicopter pilots and crewmembers who were killed while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces during the Vietnam era, and for other purposes.
S.319 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish within the Department of Veterans Affairs a center of excellence in the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of health conditions relating to exposure to burn pits.
S.283 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the treatment of veterans who participated in the cleanup of Enewetak Atoll as radiation exposed veterans for purposes of the presumption of service-connection of certain disabilities by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
S.242 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to permit veterans to grant access to their records in the databases of the Veterans Benefits Administration to certain designated congressional employees, and for other purposes.
S.Res.24 An original resolution authorizing expenditures by the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
S.233 A bill to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out certain major medical facility leases of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
S.152 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the removal or demotion of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs based on performance or misconduct, and for other purposes.
S.115 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide for an operation on a live donor for purposes of conducting a transplant procedure for a veteran, and for other purposes.
S.112 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize per diem payments under comprehensive service programs for homeless veterans to furnish care to dependents of homeless veterans, and for other purposes.
S.111 A bill to require the Secretary of Defense to establish a process to determine whether individuals claiming certain service in the Philippines during World War II are eligible for certain benefits despite not being on the Missouri List, and for other purposes.
S.114 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit an annual report regarding performance awards and bonuses awarded to certain high-level employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
S.113 A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to increase the use of medical scribes to maximize the efficiency of physicians at medical facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
S.86 A bill to amend the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 to modify the termination date for the Veterans Choice Program.
S.75 A bill to provide for the reconsideration of claims for disability compensation for veterans who were the subjects of experiments by the Department of Defense during World War II that were conducted to assess the effects of mustard gas or lewisite on people, and for other purposes.
S.57 A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to revoke bonuses paid to employees involved in electronic wait list manipulations, and for other purposes