Minnesota Congressman John Kline sent a letter today to Dept. of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel requesting answers after it was announced the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard are canceling Tuition Assistance due to the president's sequestration plan. Tuition Assistance is a tool for service members to pursue higher education while still serving in the military, and currently aids many Minnesotans.
"In my home state of Minnesota which I proudly serve, active duty, reserve, and members of the Minnesota National Guard's "Red Bulls' rely on Tuition Assistance to help them complete their degrees and better equip them for the future," said Kline, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps whose son has served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The decision to abruptly terminate this program not only breaks faith with our nation's heroes and their families, but it could negatively impact morale amongst service members in Minnesota as well."
It has been reported that 200,000 soldiers nationwide will be affected by the Pentagon's decision due to the president's sequestration plan. Last year, 1,600 members of Minnesota's Red Bulls relied on tuition assistance.
"There is a better way to reduce the size and cost of government than arbitrary cuts that give no consideration to our national priorities and, in this case, break a promise made to our troops," said Kline, who last week supported bipartisan legislation prioritizing spending in the Pentagon that included tuition assistance. "The House has twice passed legislation to replace the sequester with commonsense reform that would significantly reduce spending through a thoughtful, targeted approach. The president knows promises made should be promises kept and he should refrain from using our troops as political pawns."
This isn't the first time Kline has provided oversight when the Pentagon has broken faith with our troops and their families. Last year, Kline championedlegislation that ensured Minnesota National Guard soldiers serving in Kuwait received the full Post Deployment Mobilization Respite Absence Program (PDMRA) benefits they earned.In 2010, Kline worked with the Pentagon to successfully ensure 2,500 Minnesota soldiers -- and nearly 23,000 National Guard members nationwide -- received PDMRA "bonus pay" that had been delayed for more than three years.
John Kline serves on the House Armed Services Committee. He also is the Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. He and his wife, Vicky, live in Burnsville.