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Public Statements

Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. MILLER of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I might consume.

Mr. Speaker, the Senate amendment before us, H.R. 4057, is another bipartisan and bicameral product of the work of the House and the Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs to improve the effectiveness of GI Bill benefits for our veterans.

I want to express my appreciation to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity Chairman MARLIN STUTZMAN, Ranking Member BRUCE BRALEY, and our new committee ranking member, MIKE MICHAUD, for working with us to bring this amended bill to the House floor today. I also want to thank the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Senators MURRAY and BURR, for their support of this legislation as well.

The Senate amendment responds to concerns about how to ensure that veterans make the best use of their hard-earned GI Bill benefits. Now, I think that by adding some very reasonable transparency requirements to information provided by schools we have met those concerns really without overburdening our colleges and universities with needless government regulations.

The bill, as amended, has four major sections. The first one reflects our vice chairman of the full committee Mr. Bilirakis' original legislation, slightly modified, which would improve the ability of GI Bill users to choose the school that best meets their own educational needs. These provisions will help this generation of veterans make informed choices about how to use those educational benefits.

I appreciate the bipartisanship manner in which our colleagues on both sides of the aisle have worked to reach an accord on the final provisions of this section. I also want to thank the veteran service organizations for their assistance, especially the Veterans of Foreign Wars, for they have been so supportive of this particular section. I also want to thank the higher education associations for their support as well.

Now, section 2 contains additional provisions from the original bill that will prohibit schools from paying or offering any type of inducement to employees or students for recruiting veterans. It would also require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out enforcement of this provision in a manner that is consistent with the Higher Education Act.

Section 3 would require VA to provide a point of contact dedicated to assisting schools with questions about VA education policy and processes.

The fourth section would limit the total amount of bonuses or awards paid to VA employees to $395 million total in fiscal year 2013, which fully pays for the provisions in the Senate amendment.

Finally, if properly implemented by VA, and if the multitude of Federal, State, and local agencies charged with overseeing the education industry properly enforce existing laws and regulations, there should be little need for further legislation in this area.

Regardless, the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs will continue to aggressively monitor the implementation of this legislation and the performance of the entire education industry to ensure that these provisions achieve the desired results.

I encourage all the Members of this body to support the bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. MILLER of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I once again encourage all Members to support the Senate amendment to H.R. 4057, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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