Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Senator Susan M. Collins
Posted on 2013-03-14
COLLINS (for herself, Mr. Leahy, and Mr. Carper):
S. 573. A bill to amend title 40, United States Code, to improve
veterans service organizations access to Federal surplus personal
property; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental
Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the Formerly Owned Resources for Veterans to Express Thanks for Service Act of 2013, also known as the FOR VETS Act of 2013. I am pleased that Senators Leahy and Carper have joined me in cosponsoring this bill. This bill is necessary to ensure that veterans' service organizations are provided access to federal surplus personal property as the Senate intended when it passed the FOR VETS Act of 2010. The FOR VETS Act of 2010 provides that veterans' service organizations should be categorized as eligible nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations that may acquire surplus personal property for the purposes of education or public health.
Unfortunately, the General Services Administration, or GSA, has interpreted this law in the strictest of terms. In its published guidelines, veterans' service organizations may acquire the surplus property for the purposes of education or public health, but with minimal flexibility in what an educational or public health service may be. For example, acquiring a van to transport a disabled veteran to a doctor's appointment may not be considered an eligible use for a veterans' organization under current guidelines.
The bill that we are introducing today makes the legislative modification necessary for GSA to carry out the original intent of the FOR VETS Act of 2010.
The National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property, NASASP, has identified the need for this legislation to ensure that veterans' service organizations are able to receive surplus equipment to enable them to improve their provision of critical services to our nation's veterans. The American Legion has said that this bill would enable them to better serve our veterans, their families, and the communities in which they live.
Veterans' groups--whose work enhances the lives of countless veterans every day--should benefit from access to these goods just as other service organizations do. Many veterans' organizations offer career development and job training assistance to our nation's veterans, yet often lack the computer equipment needed to assist our veterans in the often difficult transition from military service to the civilian work force.
These are just a couple of examples of the needs of veterans' service organizations. This bill is one way to say ``thank you'' to those Americans who have worn the uniform and to the families that supported them. In these challenging fiscal times, the need for excess federal property to be used for job training, rehabilitation, and other important assistance to our veterans is greater now than ever. I am proud to introduce this legislation with Senators Leahy and Carper, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill through the Senate and into law.
______ By Mr. GRASSLEY: S. 575. A bill to amend title 28, United States Code, to provide an Inspector General for the judicial branch, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.