Congressional Republicans and Democrats have reached an agreement to pass the biggest expansion of college aid for military veterans in a decade, according to The Associated Press.
This bill announced early Thursday is expected to cost the government more than $100 billion over 10 years, without increasing taxes.
The proposal would be paid for by bringing living stipend payments down to a similar level as those received by an active-duty member.
The bill removes a 15-year time limit to receive benefits and attempts to fill gaps in the previous post-9/11 GI bill. It combines 18 separate House bills and is available for Purple Heart recipients, whereas previously individuals had to serve at least three years to be eligible.
The bill builds on the previous legislation that guaranteed a full-ride scholarship to any in-state public university by giving veterans the flexibility to enroll in college later in life. Veterans reportedly would also get additional payments if they complete science, technology, and engineering courses in an effort to encourage those to pursue successful jobs.
House members overall praise the bill, claiming that it will benefit veterans exponentially and their lives after the military.
“It’s really about training the workforce in a post-9/11 GI Bill world,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told The Associated Press. “Veterans are being locked out of a whole new economy.”
And the House are eager to start putting their plan into action. House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe, the bill’s lead sponsor, pledged more VA reforms and a quick committee vote. McCarthy said that they will seek to pass it through the full House soon.
Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, announced that he would be presenting a companion bill, according to The Associated Press.