Last night, Congress voted 223-186 rejecting a critical increase in G.I. Bill education benefits. I am a co-sponsor to the “Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention and Readjustment through Education Act” (H.R. 5944) and was extremely disappointed.
H.R. 5944 provides for an immediate increase in the Montgomery G.I. Bill education benefit, and to improve retention and update this successful program for today’s service members. Amongst the new features this bill provides for the GI Bill program, it allows military personnel to transfer their education benefits to a spouse or dependent children. Simply put, this is not your grandfather’s G.I. Bill.
There is a competing G.I. Bill expansion bill out there, introduced by Senator Jim Webb. But while the G.I. Bill expansion I am supporting is comparable in size and scope of benefits, it avoids the pitfalls of the Webb bill.
(1) The bill I support maintains the retention benefits of the G.I. Bill. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis found that the Webb bill could lead to a 16% decline in re-enlistment.
(2) The bill I support is not just a big money giveaway to universities and colleges. It removes incentives for schools to keep hiking tuition costs.
(3) The bill I support is fully paid for. The Webb bill simply passes the costs of educating one generation of GIs on to the next.
(4) The bill I support allows education benefits to be transferred to family members, giving service members and their families options for how they use the benefits they have earned.
While both pieces of legislation go a long way to increasing G.I. benefits, one does so in a more responsible manner. Hopefully, the House can reconsider this issue when we return to Congress after the Memorial Day district work period.