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CRAMER: House Removes Time Limit on GI Bill for Future Eligible Recipients

Jul 28, 2017
Press Release

Recording: Quote 1, Quote 2

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported seve­ral bipartisan military and veterans reform bills passed this week by the House of Representatives including one bill that removes the time restriction for use of the GI Bill to future recipients.

H.R. 3218, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, would extend and expand GI Bill benefits available to veterans, their dependents, and their surviving spouses, including by increasing funding, removing certain time limitations on the use of such benefits, and creating new pilot programs.

“There shouldn’t be a time limit on a soldier’s future education,” said Cramer. “The time restriction imposed on our service men and women ignores the fact that people have responsibilities such as caring for their families, which oftentimes prevents them from taking advantage of the GI Bill when the window is open and available to them. We’re fixing that for our future service members and their families. It’s also an important recruiting tool as we aim to build the best military we can, we need to attract the very best people we can, and I think this is a benefit that helps do that.”

Specifically, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 does the following:

  • Removes time restriction to use the GI bill for future eligible recipients and those who were discharged on or after January 1, 2013;
  • Provides an increase in GI Bill funding for Reservists, Guardsmen, dependents, and surviving spouses and dependents;
  • Provides 100% GI Bill eligibility to Post-9/11 Purple Heart recipients;
  • Provides GI Bill eligibility to Reservists and Guardsmen who are currently being put on active duty and convalescent medical leave orders that do not currently accrue GI Bill eligibility;
  • Provides an extra academic years’ worth of Post-9/11benefits for over 3,300 veterans (per year) to help them finish a STEM degree;
  • Create a pilot program that would pay for veterans to take certain high technology courses (coding boot camps, IT certifications, etc.) and provide living stipends;
  • Make it easier and cheaper for veterans to use their GI Bill to take national test or licensing and credentialing tests;
  • Restore eligibility for servicemembers whose school closes in the middle of a semester (ex. ITT tech and Corinthian);
  • Authorize funding for IT improvements to ensure that GI Bill claims are processed quickly and accurately.

In addition to the GI Bill, the House passed a bill to reauthorize and appropriate funding for the Veterans Choice Program. Since the bill has already passed the Senate, it now moves to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

“The House isn’t getting distracted from doing the peoples‘ work,“ said Cramer. “The veterans bills passed this week exemplifly that bipartisan work still gets done for our vets. From health care to providing assistance for military families, these bipartisan bills will ensure that tomorrow our heroes and their families are better off than they were yesterday.“

Other notable bills passed this week included below.

VA Reform:

S. 114, a bill to authorize appropriations for the Veterans Choice Program, would authorize and appropriate $2 billion for the Veterans’ Choice Fund and as offsets extend through 2027. This bill, already passed by the Senate, will go to President Trump’s desk for signature.

H.R. 1690, the Department of Veterans Affairs Bonus Transparency Act, would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide an annual report to Congress on the performance awards and bonuses awarded to senior executive employees, including VA Regional Office Directors, Directors of VA Medical Centers, and Directors of Veterans Integrated Service Networks.  The reports would be required to include (1) the amount of each award or bonus, (2) the individual’s job title, and (3) the location where the individual works. The bill was created in response to news that more than 300 senior executives received $3.3 million in bonuses in FY 2015, with average payments totaling about $10,000 each. 

H.R. 1848, the Veterans Affairs Medical Scribe Pilot Act of 2017, would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct a pilot program to test whether employing or contracting with medical scribes improves physician efficiency and physician satisfaction and decreases patient wait times.

H.R. 95, the Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act, would expand and make permanent a pilot program that provides certain veterans access to private or public child care assistance during time periods when said veteran must travel to receive certain health care services at VA facilities.

Other Vet Initiatives:

H.R. 282, the Military Residency Choice Act, would authorize the spouse of a servicemember to elect to use the same residence as the servicemember. Currently, servicemembers may claim residency within any state they have resided so long as their presence or absence within a state is a result of military orders, however, the spouse may not also claim residency in that state. 

H.R. 2781, the Ensuring Veteran Enterprise Participation in Strategic Sourcing Act, would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to certify to Congress that a sufficient number of small businesses owned by veterans and owned by service-disabled veterans are given preference in VA contracting and are represented on contracts under the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative.  If the Secretary cannot make this certification, the bill would require VA to work with the General Services Administration (GSA) to increase their representation on the contracts or require the VA to stop using the contracts.