On May 22, 2008, the Senate passed legislation to expand educational benefits for our troops and veterans who have so honorably served our country since September 11, 2001. By a vote of 75 to 22, a strong, bipartisan majority of the Senate endorsed this 21st century G.I. bill to provide today’s veterans with benefits similar to those offered to World War II veterans under the original G.I. Bill of Rights. The legislation has widespread popular support as well as the backing of leading national veterans’ service organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), The American Legion, the Military Officers’ Association of America (MOAA), and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
The President and his Republican allies in Congress, including Senator McCain, stood alone in opposing this bipartisan bill. They said that the expanded benefits were too generous and offered a watered-down alternative that fell significantly short of honoring the first-class service of our troops. Recently, they appear to have switched positions and agreed to support the bill. When the Senate again considers this legislation this week as part of a revised supplemental appropriations bill, we hope that Bush Republicans will match their rhetoric of supporting the troops with meaningful action and vote in favor of the new G.I. bill. Our men and women responded bravely to the call to serve our country, and have often endured repeated and extended deployments since 9/11; they deserve nothing short of the full benefits provided by this 21st century G.I. bill to ease the transition back to civilian life and provide them with the tools to succeed in our economy.
Specifically, the bill would: