Statement on Signing a Veterans Benefits Bill

 

November 18, 1988

 

I have today signed into law S. 11, which will provide a cost-of-living increase for beneficiaries of veterans' compensation and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), grant judicial review of veterans' claims, and make a number of improvements in other veterans' benefit programs, including vocational rehabilitation, life insurance, disability pension, health care, and memorial affairs.

 

This Act provides a 4.1 percent cost-of-living increase in the compensation paid to the nearly 2.2 million Armed Forces veterans with service-connected disabilities. In addition, it will provide the same percentage increase in the payments to approximately 323,000 surviving spouses and dependents of veterans whose deaths were service-connected. These increases will become effective on December 1, 1988.

 

I must note, however, that several provisions of the Act raise serious constitutional questions. However, I do not believe these particular constitutional difficulties impair the fulfillment of the bill's principal objectives.

 

The Act purports to require the budget submissions of the newly created Court of Veterans' Appeals to be included in the President's budget ``without review within the Executive branch.'' This provision is unconstitutional because it interferes with the constitutional power of the President to recommend to the Congress ``such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.''

 

The Act also purports to require the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to, among other things, ``set aside'' statutes that it finds to be arbitrary and capricious. The reference to ``statute'' appears to have been included by mistake, and I urge the Congress to correct this unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to the judiciary.

 

Ronald Reagan

 

The White House,

 

November 18, 1988.

 

Note: S. 11, approved November 18, was assigned Public Law No. 100 - 687.