US House passes GI Bill legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, a bill to improve and extend G.I. Bill benefits granted to veterans, their surviving spouses, and dependents.

Marianas Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan spoke in favor of passage during debate on the House floor. Sablan was also one of the original cosponsors of the measure. Among its most notable provisions, the Colmery Act would lift the 15-year limit on the use of GI Bill educational benefits and make that tuition assistance available throughout a veteran’s lifetime.

During debate Congressman Sablan noted that at least three of the bill’s provision addressed issues that veterans, Reservists, and members of the National Guard from the Mariana Islands had specifically brought to his attention and asked for his help on.

“The first affects veterans who were enrolled in colleges that closed and who, as a result, lost their educational benefits. The bill today restores those benefits, so those veterans can continue their education,” Sablan said.

“The second problem my veterans brought to me has to do with Post-9/11 Reservists — like those in Company E, 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, and the 302nd Quartermaster Company in the Marianas — and National Guardsmen, who were under active duty orders that did not accrue education benefits. Those veterans will now have their active duty count towards the GI Bill.

“And, third, those with less than 36 months of qualifying active duty service will see an increase to 50 percent of the maximum amount payable.”

Sablan, a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, thanked Committee Chairman Phil Roe, R-Tennessee, and ranking member Tim Walz, D-Minnesota, for their leadership and commitment to working together for the benefit of our veterans.

Walz summarized his views by saying, “This bipartisan G.I. Bill will improve the lives of current and future generations of veterans by enhancing existing benefits, correcting current gaps in eligibility, and providing new benefits to help our veterans in today’s economy without asking our troops or American taxpayers to pay more.”

Sablan also commended the veterans service organizations that worked with the committee to ensure that America honored the promises made to those who have served in the armed forces.

The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for action.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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