- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
Committee on the Judiciary
- senate Committees
- The house Passed February 7th, 2019Roll Call Vote 417 Yea / 0 Nay
Committee on the JudiciaryIntroducedJanuary 10th, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 450?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 450
In-Depth: Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to crack down on fraudsters targeting veterans. When he originally introduced this bill in the 115th Congress, Rep. Deutch said pension poaching was becoming increasingly commonplace and sophisticated:
"Pension poaching is not only illegal, it's a despicable and immoral practice. These scammers are getting more and more sophisticated in how they identify and deceive vulnerable veterans with lofty promises to help them with their pensions while charging outrageous fees."
After this bill passed the House in March 2018, Rep. Deutch added that “con artists looking to steal veterans’ hard-earned pensions must face penalties for these illegal practices.”
Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), who was a cosponsor of this bill in the previous Congress, added:
“Anybody who seeks to financially exploit the men and women who have served our country and cheat them out of their hard-earned VA benefits should answer to their wrongdoings and face harsh punishments for their crimes. Frankly, it’s appalling that there are people out there who are targeting our veterans, especially those in low-income housing or those who are elderly. This commonsense legislation will help give prosecutors the tools they need to go after these criminals and protect our those who have done so much and risked their lives to serve our country.”
The Reserve Officers Association (ROA) supported this bill in the 115th Congress, writing:
“The VA administration faces increasing medical appointment backlogs making it difficult for veterans to receive their benefits in a timely fashion. Facing delayed service deliveries, veterans have become impatient and nefarious individuals have sought to take advantage of their frustration. Those who commit fraud will, at times, falsely claim they can guarantee veterans quicker access to their benefits, all the [while] charging them fees for nonexistent services because the appeals process is a stop-by-stop process that includes requirements directed by law and formal rules… This example is illustrative, not encompassing of all the other methods persons use to defraud veterans of their hard-earned benefits. [This bill] recognizes the serious nature of this grave crime and ensures it could be prosecuted at the federal level. Additionally, elevating veteran fraud to a federal crime guarantees the courts will more consistently prosecute it. This makes intuitive sense given that the federal government provides veteran benefits and, thus, fraud against veterans should be taken as fraud against the federal government.”
This bill has one cosponsor, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), in the current Congress. It’s been introduced in each of the past two Congresses (114th and 115th), passing the House in both legislative sessions before dying in the Senate. In the 114th Congress, it passed the House by a 411-0 vote; in the 115th Congress, it passed the House by a voice vote with the support of 26 bipartisan cosponsors, including 18 Republicans and eight Democrats. It’s also enjoyed the support of many veterans organizations, including the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Reserve Officers Association (ROA).
Of Note: There are approximately 21 million U.S. veterans, over a million of whom service-connected disabilities. Veterans also comprise 17 percent of the U.S. homeless population, with about 50,000 veterans sleeping on the streets on any given night.
In recent years, financial predators have increasingly targeted veterans, particularly those in low-income housing or assisted living facilities, to defraud them of their Veteran’s Affairs (VA) benefits. Currently, only agents or attorneys qualified by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may assess a nominal fee to assist veterans with their appeals cases for benefits. It is illegal for unauthorized individuals to charge veterans a fee for aid in receiving such benefits. However, there are no legal or financial repercussions for those who violate this law, and these scammers often get away with charging veterans exorbitant fees while the veteran has no guarantee that they'll receive any help with their VA benefits.
Sponsoring Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) Press Release (115th Congress)
Sponsoring Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) Dear Colleague Letter (115th Congress)
CBO Cost Estimate (115th Congress)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Floor Remarks (In Favor, 115th Congress)
Reserve Officers Association (ROA) Letter (In Favor, 115th Congress)
Military Order of the Purple Heart Letter (In Favor, 115th Congress)
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / KLH49)