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Our History

Philadelphia Vets

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs was created by the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 from three standing committees: Pensions, Invalid Pensions, and World War Veterans Legislation. The Pensions Committees are descended from the first standing committee to deal with this topic, Pensions and Revolutionary Claims, which was created on December 22, 1813. Stevenson Archer, a Jeffersonian from Maryland and chair of the Claims Committee pushed for the creation of this new committee. According to Lauros McConachie's 1898 classic, Congressional Committees, that committee was divided into two committees in 1825—the Committee on Revolutionary Claims, chaired by Peter Little, a John Quincy Adams supporter from Maryland, and the Committee on Military Pensions. Military Pensions became Revolutionary Pensions in the 21st Congress (1829-1831) and in 1880; Revolutionary Pensions became the Committee on Pensions. Revolutionary Claims became the War Claims Committee in 1873 in the wake of the Civil War.

Also, in the 21st Congress, James Trezvant, a Jacksonian from Virginia and the chair of Military Pensions initiated the Invalid Pensions Committee. The Invalid Pensions Committee dated from January 10, 1831, but by the time of the 1946 reorganization, it was still primarily involved in dealing with pension claims from the Civil War. The third committee ancestor, the Committee on World War Veterans Legislation, was created on January 14, 1924, and was originally chaired by Royal C. Johnson (R-SD) with Carl Hayden (D-AZ) as its first ranking member. Hayden was Arizona's first representative in 1912 and his combined service of fifty-seven years—fifteen in the House and forty-two in the Senate—in the Congress remains one of the longest ever in congressional history.

The primary responsibility for the various predecessor committees of Veterans' Affairs were federal programs for veterans, ranging from health care to veterans' hospitals, education programs, and job counseling. Following World War II, the committee was especially focused on the readjustment to civil life of the millions of servicemen who had been uprooted by the war.

- “Veterans’ Affairs - House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, 103rd- 111th Congresses (1993-2011)” from the Committees in the U.S Congress 1993-2010 by Garrison Nelson.