Partisan Leaders Stop Bill to Benefit Military Veterans
Congressman Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), Chairman of the House Republican Conference, issued the following statement tonight after House Democrats voted to kill a Republican proposal that would increase G.I. Bill benefits for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and allow servicemembers to transfer those benefits to family members:
"In the space of one week, House Democrats voted against our troops twice, first to refuse them their funding and then to deny them greater G.I. Bill education benefits.
"The G.I. Bill is one of the great American success stories. It has given countless young people who volunteered to serve the opportunity to enjoy a first-class college education. But the years have left the current G.I. Bill out-of-date. Strongly backed by Sen. John McCain, our Republican proposal responsibly increases the G.I. Bill benefit to track rising tuition costs, and for the first time it allows our troops to transfer the benefit to their spouses and children.
"At the first opportunity following the Memorial Day district work period, the House should rectify both of these wrongs, and get our troops in harm's way the funding they need and the benefits they deserve."
Tonight, House Republicans offered Congressman Putnam's "Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention and Readjustment through Education Act" (H.R. 5944) as a component of the motion to recommit the Fiscal Year 2009 Defense Authorization Act. It failed on a 186-223 vote, with 221 Democrats voting against it.
Rep. Putnam's bill provides for an immediate increase in the Montgomery G.I. Bill education benefit to $1,500 a month, and to improve retention, those benefits increase to $2,000 a month after 12 years of service. The bill also allows military personnel to transfer their education benefits to family members. After six years, half of the benefit may be transferred; after 12 years, 100 percent may be transferred to a spouse or dependent children.
It is the House companion measure to S. 2938, introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Burr (R-NC) and John McCain (R-Az). More information on the bill is available at Rep. Putnam's website, adamputnam.house.gov
Since 2001, Putnam has represented Florida's 12th Congressional District, which includes most of Polk County and portions of Hillsborough and Osceola counties. As chairman of the Republican Conference, he is the third ranking member of his party's leadership in the House of Representatives.