History and Jurisdiction
The Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives was authorized by enactment of Public Law 601, 79th Congress, which was entitled "Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946." Section 121(a) of this Act provides: "there shall be elected by the House at the commencement of each Congress the following standing committees": Nineteen Committees are listed and No. 18 quotes: "Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to consist of 27 Members." This Act has since been amended so that there are now 22 Standing Committees in the House of Representatives. The number of Members (Representatives) authorized to serve on each Committee has been changed from time to time. There are currently 29 members of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
The Committee on Veterans' Affairs is the authorizing Committee for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Committee recommends legislation expanding, curtailing, or fine-tuning existing laws relating to veterans' benefits. The Committee also has oversight responsibility, which means monitoring and evaluating the operations of the VA. If the Committee finds the that VA is not administering laws as Congress intended, then it is "corrected" through the hearing process and legislation. We are the voice of Congress for veterans in dealings with the VA.
Legislation Within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
- Veterans' measures generally.
- Pensions of all the wars of the U.S., general and special.
- Life insurance issued by the government on account of service in the Armed Forces.
- Compensation, vocational rehabilitation, and education of veterans.
- Veterans' hospitals, medical care, and treatment of veterans.
- Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief.
- Readjustment of servicemen to civilian life.
- National Cemeteries.
The Department of Veterans Affairs
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was established March 15, 1989, with Cabinet rank, succeeding the Veterans Administration and assuming responsibility for providing federal benefits to veterans and their dependents. Led by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, VA is the second largest of the 14 Cabinet departments and operates nationwide programs of health care assistance services and national cemeteries.
Care for veterans and dependents spans centuries. The last dependent of a Revolutionary War veteran died in 1911, the War of 1812's last dependent died 44 years ago, the Spanish American War's, in 1962. There are widows and children of Civil War and Indian War veterans who still draw VA benefits. Some 2,190 children and widows of Spanish-American War veterans are receiving VA compensation or pension benefits. The last American Doughboy, Corporal Frank Buckles, passed away on February 27, 2011. His passing signified the passing of the last of the World War I veterans.
Chronological History of the Department of Veterans Affairs
The Veterans Administration was created by Executive Order S.398, signed by President Herbert Hoover on July 21, 1930. At that time, there were 54 hospitals, 4.7 million living veterans, and 31,600 employees.
The Board of Veterans Appeals was established.
On June 22, President Roosevelt signed the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944. (Public Law 346, was passed unanimously by the 78th Congress). This law offered home loan and education benefits to veterans.
The Department of Medicine & Surgery was established, succeeded in 1989 by the Veterans Health Services and Research Administration, renamed the Veterans Health Administration in 1991.
The Department of Veterans Benefits was established, succeeded in 1989 by the Veterans Benefit Administration.
The National Cemetery System (except for Arlington National Cemetery) was transferred to the VA.
Legislation to elevate VA to Cabinet status was signed by President Reagan.
March 15. VA became the 14th Department in the President's Cabinet.