Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) joined Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) and Congressman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) Wednesday in introducing legislation which would ensure that Military Tuition Assistance programs would continue to be funded in the event of a disruption in appropriations.
The bill - the Ensure Tuition Assistance for our Armed Forces Members Act [H.R. 3275] -- would amend the Pay Our Military Act [H.R. 3210] to include specified funding for tuition assistance programs for active duty members of the military.
"It is unacceptable that our nation's servicemen and women are facing drastic cuts to their tuition assistance," Blackburn said. "This is just another tactic by the Obama Administration to hurt vulnerable segments of our society as punishment for not blindly following their radical agenda. This legislation takes the necessary steps to ensure that our troops have access to the classes and training they need to transition from the military into successful civilian careers. Restoring tuition assistance benefits is just one way we can repay these brave men and women for the sacrifices they make each and every day to keep our nation safe."
"We made a promise to members of our military when they enlisted in service of our country -- a guaranteed paycheck, benefits to family members and assistance when it comes to continuing their education. All of these promises need to be honored, not pulled away for political posturing," said Fitzpatrick. "Our fighting men and women deserve the assurance of knowing the promises our nation made to them will be upheld, that's what this simple legislation does. The Ensure Tuition Assistance for our Armed Forces Members Act makes sure Military Tuition Assistance, which benefits hundreds of thousands of members of our armed forces each year, does not get used as a political football by the president or Congress."
"The men and women that serve this country deserve the benefits promised to them," said Roe. "It is shameful that the DoD, which has already tried to take tuition assistance away from our troops, is trying again to take this important benefit from our servicemembers. The House and Senate passed a bill, which was signed into law by the president, to ensure members of our military get paid during a government shutdown and this bill would extend that protection to tuition assistance programs. I am proud to support this bill and I applaud Representatives Blackburn and Fitzpatrick for their leadership on this issue."
In March 2013, the Administration ended a popular tuition assistance program for active duty members, reservists and National Guards members. It took an Act of Congress to reverse that decision. An amendment offered to the National Defense Authorization Act [H.R. 1960] in June codified that the Administration must continue to assist military members seeking further education as promised.
In 2012 over 300,000 service members took 870,000 courses and earned 50,500 diplomas while utilized the Tuition Assistance program to advance their educational goals. This vital program allows servicemen and women to pursue high school completion courses, vocational course or classes toward associate or bachelors, masters or doctorate degrees after hours.