05.22.08

Burr Calls For Open Debate On G.I. Bill

U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) today called for an open debate on G.I. Bill improvements. Burr is a co-sponsor of Senator Lindsey Graham's (R-South Carolina) Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention, and Readjustment Through Education Act of 2008 (S.2938). The legislation would enhance the existing Montgomery G.I. Bill by improving education benefits for service members, veterans, and members of the Guard and Reserve. Today the Senate voted on a competing measure, S.22 offered by Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia). Senators were not permitted to offer amendments to this legislation, which was attached to a measure funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Burr voted against the legislation, which contains billions of dollars in domestic spending unrelated to the war effort.

"Our legislation and Senator Webb's legislation both have their merits and both deserve an honest and open debate in the Senate," Burr said. "There are a lot of good provisions in Senator Webb's bill, but it would hurt retention, create more bureaucracy, and discourage states from subsidizing education. Senator Webb's legislation is tied to an emergency war appropriations bill riddled with unrelated domestic programs and closed to amendment. I am disappointed this legislation was not given full consideration on the Senate floor. Our veterans and servicemembers deserve better."

The Graham-Burr-McCain bill would enhance education benefits and allow servicemembers to transfer unused benefits to their spouse or children. This provision would reward those who make the military a career and encourage servicemembers to reenlist. The legislation would also greatly increase education benefits and automatically adjust future benefits based on the rising cost of higher education.

Webb's legislation is attached to the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (H.R.2642), which provides funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a wide range of unrelated programs, including NASA, the United Nations, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).