Scott, Isakson Bill to Provide Equal Burial Benefits for Veterans Heads to President’s Desk

May 25, 2018
Press Release
Legislation provides grave liners at no cost for veterans buried at national park cemeteries

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08) released the below statement upon legislation he introduced along with Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), the Veterans Cemetery Benefit Correction Act (H.R. 4910), passing the U.S. Senate last night. H.R. 4910 amends the law to require the Department of Interior to provide an outer burial receptacle for each new veteran’s grave in a national cemetery under the control of the National Park Service (NPS). This bill also provides for the reimbursement of a veteran’s survivors who provide a privately purchased outer burial receptacle for use in a NPS-managed cemetery. In Georgia, this would include Andersonville National Cemetery in Andersonville.

Following yesterday’s Senate passage, H.R.4910 now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law. It passed the House of Representatives on Monday, May 7.

“I applaud the Senate for passing this important piece of legislation and thank Sen. Isakson for his support and dedication in the coordinated push to get H.R.4910 through the Senate, as well as the support of Congressman Sanford Bishop,” said Scott. “I look forward to President Trump signing this into law so that we can ensure that our veterans and their families are provided appropriate benefits in all of our federal cemeteries.”

“With this bill, we are seeing to it that all veterans and their families are receiving the burial benefits they have earned regardless of where they are laid to rest,” said Isakson. “I look forward to the president signing it into law very soon.”

Current law requires the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide an outer burial receptacle to a veteran buried in a national cemetery under the control of the National Cemetery Administration, a branch of the VA. Additionally, the VA can provide a reimbursement if the family chooses to purchase one in lieu of a government-furnished grave liner. NPS-managed cemeteries, however, are not currently covered by this statute and neither the VA nor the NPS is able to provide this benefit for veterans buried in those cemeteries.

Of the 14 national cemeteries controlled by the NPS, two are still active: Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia and Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Tennessee.

In the Senate, co-sponsors of the legislation include U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV)., Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

In the House, cosponsors of Rep. Scott’s legislation include U.S. Representatives Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Marsha Blackburn (TN-07), Paul Cook (CA-08), Scott DesJarlais (TN-04), Neal Dunn (FL-02), Drew Ferguson (GA-03), Karen Handel (GA-06), Walter B. Jones (N.C.-03), Steve Scalise (LA-01), Mac Thornberry (TX-13), and Mike Turner (OH-10).

Additionally, H.R. 4910 is supported by outside veterans groups including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Vietnam Veterans of America.