President Donald Trump signed into law a proposal from a Florida Republican congressman to ensure veterans are not financially penalized by colleges and universities as they wait for their federal education benefits.
Early last year, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., the vice chairman of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced the “Servicemembers Improved Transition through Reforms for Ensuring Progress (SIT-REP) Act.” Under Bilirakis’ proposal, veterans using their GI Bill benefits will not be penalized if the VA delays payment to the school due to the time it takes to process.
The Florida Republican reeled in the support of a host of veterans groups including the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Two fellow Florida Republicans--U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Bill Posey--are original cosponsors of the proposal. Other supporters of the bill include U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-NC, U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster, D-NH, and U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Tex. Bilirakis got his bill through without opposition in May.
Back in June, the Senate version was introduced by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. The Senate passed Bilirakis’ bill last month as part of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s, D-Mont., “Veterans Benefits and Transition Act” which Trump signed into law.
Bilirakis weighed in on Wednesday after Trump signed the bill into law. This is the 27th bill Bilirakis has gotten over the finish line in the past four years.
“I filed this common sense bill in response to several student veterans who were subject to punitive action by their school because it received payment from the VA after a certain deadline,” Bilirakis said. “This legislation is very timely given the recent delays by the VA in processing payments.
“I am continuing to closely monitor that situation, and have been assured that all veterans will receive the full amount they are due,” Bilirakis added. “However, my bill will guarantee, moving forward, that veterans will not lose access to education or charged with additional fees from the schools. Veterans should never experience financial harm or denial of access to education due to bureaucratic red tape in processing paperwork at the VA or school. The GI Bill is already a wonderful benefit that our veterans have earned and this legislation makes the program better.”
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