This morning, Representative David Price (NC-04), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, voted in favor of a Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the government through the end of the fiscal year. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law.
Rep. Price has been a leading advocate for a balanced deficit-reduction package that averts sequestration and protects vital investments in our communities, and he was disappointed that the compromise legislation locks in sequestration's across-the-board spending cuts. However, the Senate-passed legislation improves upon the House-passed version in several important ways, including by restoring funding for military tuition assistance programs that help active-duty service members pursue college credits. During Senate consideration of the legislation, Sens. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) led a successful effort to restore the funding, which Rep. Price had promised to advocate for in the House.
"I am very pleased appropriators in the majority listened to voices of reason such as Senator Hagan and agreed to include funding to restore military tuition assistance in the Continuing Resolution. I also applaud local institutions, such as Methodist University in the Fourth District, that announced they would offer service members free tuition as long as funding was unavailable," Rep. Price said. "The military's difficult decision to suspend tuition assistance explains in a nutshell the mindless approach Congress took in sequestration: It's possible to save money by denying our service members educational opportunities, but that's the very definition of penny-wise and pound-foolish. While Congress acted to restore tuition assistance, it's important to remember that it is just one example of the impossible trade-offs forced on federal agencies as these cuts bite into programs that invest in our people."
In Fiscal Year 2012, 201,000 soldiers used Army Tuition Assistance alone, receiving $373 million in benefits and enrolling in 620,000 courses. Soldiers using Tuition Assistance funds earned 2,831 associates' degrees, 4,495 baccalaureates, and 1,946 graduate degrees, according to the Army. Across all of the Armed Services, $568 million in tuition assistance was provided. Earlier this week, Rep. Price sponsored a stand-alone House bill to restore funding for the program.