By Debbie Gregory.
The House of Representatives approved a bill that would cut, by half, the housing stipend for children of service members going to school with transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it would need to pass and then be signed by the president to become law.
The language, part of the Veterans Employment, Education and Healthcare Act, cuts the payment for children of service members using the transferred funding. It would not apply to benefits already transferred or transferred within 180 days of the bill becoming law.
The housing stipend, often one of the most valuable parts of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, is typically calculated based on the Basic Allowance for Housing that active-duty service members would receive if stationed where the school is located. The housing stipend may be worth as much as the tuition and fees the benefit covers, sometimes more.
A spokesman for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee said the cuts were necessary to offset, or pay for, other aspects of the bill. He also noted that the cuts were less drastic than those recommended from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission.
Minnesota Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, said that while the bill has “absolutely wonderful programs,” paying for those by reducing a benefit that service members have been promised “is an egregious breach of trust.”
“Why come to the soldiers first? There’s no other place in the federal government we can find this [funding]?” Walz asked.
Veteran and military groups seem to be split on whether or not this is a good move.
Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans both wrote letters favoring the overall bill.
The Association of the United States Navy and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America are against the cuts.
The measure would not affect the stipends of veterans using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits they earned themselves.