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Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my support of H.R. 3553, the Indian Veterans Housing Opportunity Act of 2009.
This bill would amend the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, also called NAHASDA, so that a disability income is not counted against Native American veterans when determining eligibility for NAHASDA housing benefits.
Currently, Native American households with incomes below 80 percent of an area's median income are eligible for housing assistance under this program. Unlike similar programs for non-Native American households, NAHASDA counts Veterans Affairs disability payments or survivor benefits as income when determining eligibility for housing assistance. As a result, many Native American families of disabled veterans can lose their eligibility for housing aid if their disability benefits place them beyond the 80 percent threshold.
Interestingly, the Internal Revenue Service does not consider disability payments as income. Yet without changes included in this bill before us, Native American veterans who have been left disabled as a result of their service to our country will remain limited in their access to affordable housing on the reservation.
H.R. 3553 simply amends the definition of ``income'' under the law to exclude payments for disability compensation. The bill would not affect any tribe's current funding under NAHASDA, and the Congressional Budget Office has said that there is no cost to this bill.
Mr. Speaker, we must meet our commitments to our troops both in the field and when they return home. This legislation will help extend existing housing resources to Native American veterans, allow them to return to the reservation, and will provide their families with access to stable housing.
I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
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