Thursday, June 19, 2008

GI Bill Compromise Today!

From GI Bill 2008 (a project of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America):
"After overwhelming bipartisan votes for a new GI Bill in the House and Senate, the White House has reached a compromise with House leadership to pass a new GI bill, modeled after Rep. Mitchell and Rep. Brown-Waite’s H.R. 5740. This WWII style GI bill will renew the social contract with our men and women in uniform and their families. This new GI Bill will not only fully fund the cost of an education, it will also allow servicemembers who stay in the military the opportunity to transfer their education benefits to spouses and their children.

The bipartisan agreement reached by the House Majority and Minority Leaders and endorsed by the White House is just one more shining example of the broad bipartisan support for this new GI Bill.

The best news is that the basic benefit structure of HR 5740 is still completely intact; the only substantive changes involve transferability. The White House’s included proposal for a permanent transferability program breaks down like this:
  • Six years of service, coupled with an additional service agreement of at least four years grants up to 36 months transferability. This 10-year commitment is similar to what our transferability amendment would have required for full 36-month transferability.
  • Spouses would be eligible to receive transferred benefits after the service member has reached six years.
  • To transfer to children, the service member would need to serve 10 years before transferring.
  • The Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs may prescribe regulations changing the years of service required.
  • There are no reporting requirements to Congress as our pilot program amendment had required.
  • They have included language to create similar transferability programs in the three existing GI educational benefit programs as well: Montgomery GI Bill (Ch. 30), Montgomery GI Bill-Select Reserve (1606), and the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (1607).
  • This transferability program has apparently been scored at $10 billion over 10 years, bringing the cost of the total package to $62 billion.
  • There is no offset for the GI bill, tax or otherwise.

This is a big victory for veterans and their families. We hope to see an overwhelming show of bipartisan Congressional support when this bill comes up for a vote later today.

Thank you from Senator Chuck Hagel

IAVA received the following letter from Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, one of the original Senate sponsors of the new GI Bill (S.22): Click here to view the original (PDF):

Dear Paul and Friends,

As you know, the Webb-Hagel GI Bill passed both Houses of Congress with overwhelming bi-partisan support. The Senate’s vote last week (75-22) was a big win for us. We could not have made this progress without your organization’s strong support.

Thank you for your commitment and leadership in ensuring that we get this legislation passed and signed into law.

This effort is not over. I will continue to do all I can to see the Webb-Hagel GI Bill become a reality for America’s deserving veterans. Thanks again to you and your colleagues for all your help. We’re getting close!

Best wishes.

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