Today, Congressman Beto O'Rourke sent a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations urging them to include funding for the Department of Defense's Military Tuition Assistance Program in the upcoming Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 defense appropriations bill. Congressman O'Rourke authored the letter, which includes the bipartisan support of 68 other Members of Congress and asks the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to fully fund the program in FY 2014.
"Last month, Congress did the right thing by reinstating funding to military tuition assistance programs in the final version of the six-month continuing resolution," said Congressman O'Rourke. "Active duty men and women rely on this program to gain the education and skills necessary to carry out their mission and secure good-paying jobs after they leave the Armed Services. Thousands of Service Members across the country, including the 36,000 who currently serve at Fort Bliss, are counting on us to once again do the right thing."
In March, Congressman O'Rourke introduced H.R. 1265, a bipartisan bill aimed at protecting military tuition programs from sequestration cuts. Language similar to that in his bill was included in the Continuing Resolution (P.L. 113-6) passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama which restored funding to military tuition programs through FY 2013.
"These men and women entered their military service careers with the promise that they would receive the support and resources necessary to attain a higher education. We have to keep that promise to them," expressed Congressman O'Rourke. " I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure that we protect and fully fund these programs."
"With UTEP's proximity to Fort Bliss, military personnel and veterans are valued members of our student population," said Dr. Diana Natalicio, President, The University of Texas at El Paso. "UTEP remains committed to assisting our men and women in uniform in achieving their educational goals. We are especially pleased to know that Congressman O'Rourke is continuing the fight to protect funding for military tuition assistance programs."
"Our enormous gratitude goes to Congressman O'Rourke for his tireless efforts to restore tuition assistance for our men and women in uniform. These men and women have served us so well around the world, we must ensure that we serve them just as well upon their return," said Dr. William Serrata, President, El Paso Community College. "Congressman O'Rourke and his staff have worked diligently to restore funding for military tuition assistance which will have a tremendous impact on thousands of soldiers in El Paso and across the nation."
Background: The Defense Military Tuition Assistance Program allows active military service members to receive up to $4,500 each year to pay for college courses. The program has allowed Service Members to take 870,000 classes and earn over 50,000 degrees, diplomas, and certificates. In FY 2012, it constituted only 0.1% of the Department of Defense's $700 billion budget.