Moving at breakneck speed, the Senate Veterans Affairs committee unanimously approved legislation Wednesday that would expand veterans’ education benefits.
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 was introduced in the Senate by the Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Sen. Johnny Isakson, and its ranking member, Sen. Jon Tester, on July 20.
“This legislation has received broad support from our colleagues in the House and Senate as well as from veteran, military and higher education groups,” Isakson said in a statement.
“I thank our committee for supporting this bipartisan, bicameral legislative package, and I urge the Senate to quickly approve this legislation to enhance educational benefits for our veterans.”
The vote came two days after the House unanimously passed an identical bill. If passed by the full Senate, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans’ Educational Assistance Act of 2017 will go to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.
“Our bill strengthens education benefits for veterans and service members, and better allows them use their benefits in a way that makes the most sense for them and their families,” Tester added. “This bill is a testament to what’s possible when Republicans and Democrats work together.”
The bill expands educational benefits for several groups including Purple Heart recipients, and survivors using GI Bill benefits from family members killed in action. It also reinstates benefits to veterans whose schools and programs ended, including those that attended ITT Technical Institute, which closed all of its 130 campuses in September.
Known as the “Forever” GI Bill, the legislation removes the 15-year time limit for veterans to use their education benefits after separating from the military. An amendment added to the legislation also eliminates the 15-year cutoff date for veterans who left military service within the last five years.
The “Forever” GI Bill was introduced in the House on July 13. On Monday, it passed on the House floor with a vote of 405-0.