I am pleased to sign into law S. 725, the ``Persian Gulf Conflict Supplemental Authorization and Personnel Benefits Act of 1991.'' This legislation authorizes the appropriations that the Administration requested for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. It also authorizes 5 million over 5 years to increase selected benefits for the men and women who served this country, and the world, during the Persian Gulf conflict.
The Act provides the Secretary of Defense authority to use funds contributed by other countries to offset the incremental costs of U.S. operations in the Persian Gulf. It also authorizes the appropriation of billion in U.S. funds to a Persian Gulf Conflict Working Capital Account. These monies will be used to cover the costs of the Persian Gulf conflict not met by the contributions of other countries.
The Act increases certain benefits for military personnel and veterans who served during the Persian Gulf conflict. This benefit package, which is fully consistent with the Budget Enforcement Act, was crafted in bipartisan negotiations between the Administration and the Congress.
Our service men and women performed with extraordinary ability and valor in the Persian Gulf. Their success is an inspiration to us all. This Act increases the pay of those who faced the greatest danger, smooths the transition for those returning to the work force or the educational system from the Persian Gulf, and increases the level of higher education benefits for veterans and reservists.
Specifically, the Act increases the military separation allowance and imminent danger or hostile fire pay for those who served during the Persian Gulf conflict. The families of all American service men and women who were covered by Servicemen's Group Life Insurance and were killed in the line of duty during this period will receive a special death gratuity of up to ,000. Activated reservists without adequate health insurance will receive 1 month of transitional health care coverage when discharged. The Act also grants our newest wartime veterans eligibility for veterans' pensions and our combat veterans eligibility for readjustment counseling, and it makes up to 0,000 in life insurance coverage available to our servicemembers and to those who become veterans after the date of enactment of this bill. Reemployment rights for disabled veterans are also being strengthened.
Increased educational assistance payments for active duty personnel and reservists are an integral part of this package. In addition, the Act authorizes the Secretary of Education to extend the grace and deferment periods for repayment of Federal student loans and the eligibility period for certain Federal grants for activated reservists who served during the Persian Gulf conflict. It also encourages colleges and universities to provide tuition credits or refunds for students who were called to active duty and were unable to complete their courses.
S. 725 also permits the Secretary of Defense to exceed the authorized military end-strength levels for FY 1991. For FY 1992 and beyond, we intend to meet the military end-strength levels projected in the February 1991 Budget.
This act requires a report to the Congress relating to the conduct of the coalition effort. We have been open with the Congress about our conduct of the Persian Gulf conflict and will continue to provide the Congress with information to the maximum extent consistent with the discharge of my constitutional responsibilities.
The White House,
April 6, 1991.
Note: S. 725, approved April 6, was assigned Public Law No. 102 - 25.