Politicians Squabble Over New G.I. Bill

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G.I. JoeA new GI bill is in the works, but just how it’ll look when its finally approved remains to be seen.

Currently, Democrats and Republicans are debating what sort of improvements will be made over the current bill with the Democrats wanting to provide full tuition coverage and a monthly stipend at public universities while Republicans are proposing increasing the monthly stipend from $1100 to $1500. Though the differences between the two main proposals are currently a wide void, there is agreement on one thing: the current GI bill is outdated and needs to be overhauled.

The original G.I. Bill was approved back in 1944 and has been credited with fueling much of our nation’s post-war boom. As military personnel returned from WWII duty, many registered for college, got their degrees, and entered the workforce. The American economy’s post-war expansion lasted for more than two decades and is considered by many to be the one of the strongest catalysts to ignite the economy in the history of our country.

Today, the needs of servicemen and servicewomen has changed, but the G.I. bill hasn’t kept up with these changes. Now with an all-voluntary military in play, political experts believe that offering greater incentives to serve is critical to attracting and building our military. Moreover, there is reason to believe that the current G.I. bill doesn’t go far enough for the level of service performed. Therefore, politicians of every political stripe are in agreement that the bill must be overhauled.

They just aren’t in agreement on how that will be done.

A proposal by United States Senator Jim Webb, a Democrat from Virginia, would lift the current $9900 college tuition stipend cap to allow students to attend school at their in-state public universities for free. In addition, Webb’s proposal would provide a monthly housing stipend.

Webb’s bill would cost an estimated $51.1 billion over the next ten years, but President Bush says that he will veto it as it is being attached to a funding package supporting the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. The president doesn’t want such linkage, preferring to sign a bill that stands on its own merits.

Republicans simply want to give former military personnel an additional $400 per month which would be added to the $1100 monthly stipend they already get. This move would allow students to attend the school of their choice while providing a housing allowance.

Regardless of what the final bill looks like, veterans groups are unhappy that the action to pass a new GI bill has already taken 16 months without any end in site.

Resources

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs


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