By Matt Saintsing
The largest expansion of GI Bill benefits in nearly a decade is headed to the House floor for a vote—a critical step on its way to becoming law.
The ‘forever’ GI Bill was passed unanimously by a voice vote Wednesday morning in the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. House Leader Kevin McCarthy R-Calif., said Monday night that he intends to schedule a House floor vote sometime next week.
The popular legislation has been sailing through the legislative process as it was introduced just last Thursday.
Officially named the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 the landmark legislation is dubbed the ‘Forever’ GI Bill as it removes the 15-year time limit future veterans will have to use their educational benefits.
Additionally, this bill combines 18 pieces of legislation into one.
Full educational benefits would be extended to Purple Heart recipients who have not met the 3-year time in service requirement. The bill would also close a loophole for survivors using educational benefits from a family member that has been killed-in-action that barred them from enrolling in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a program designed to help pay for their education at a private institution.
Speaking before the House committee Wednesday, Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-MN) said,“We should all understand the historic nature of what we are doing, and the bipartisan nature of the way we are doing it.”
Leadership in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Sens. Johnny Isakson R-Ga., and John Tester D-Mont., have voiced their support for this bill, and last week signaled their intent to introduce companion legislation. However, a bill has yet to be introduced in the Senate.