The Senate recently passed a legislation, which many veteran advocates have described as a gigantic expansion of veterans experienced in over a decade. The senators gave their unanimous consent of the bill, which will now be sent to the President desk to be signed into law.
The measure was passed through the committees and was cleared by the House and the Senate within 20 days of being introduced. The bill will put to an end the 15-year limit that had been placed for veterans to use their education benefits, put back in place benefits to veterans who, their academic institutions had been abruptly closed and lastly it will fix the Pentagon deployment authorization which has kept in waiting almost 5,000 reservists from accumulating their earned education benefits.
The bill is called The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. It is named after the former commander of the American Legion who had authored the GI Bill of Rights back in 1944. The bill had been introduced on July 13th in the House and on July 19th it was passed through the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The House gave its approval of the bill a 405-0 vote July 25. The Senate received the bill on July 20th and the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs passed it on the 26th of July.
The bill has had many obstacles and at one point many thought it would not be introduced. In April the negotiations on the bill were stopped after there was a difference of vies between the veterans organizations on the best way to of paying for the $3 billion that is the total cost of the new measures expected to be implemented for the next 10 years. The negotiations were combination of 18 different bills. But then the teams managed to sort out the issues and decide to reignite the momentum for the GI Bill so that the bill can be passed before the Congress and the Senate left Washington and went for their recess this month.
The bill so far has gathered widespread support from veterans and many higher education organizations. Many called it the “Forever GI Bill” since it eliminated the 15-year deadline for a veteran to use their education benefits. The restriction will be eliminated for the veterans who had been discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2013. The bill will also get rid of the “Post-9/11” from the GI Bill’s title.
Lauren Augustine, who is the director of government relations for the group Got Your 6, in a statement said that the quick passage of the bill was proof enough that even when a nation is divided it can still come together and give veterans maximum support.