A key Republican staffer warned Wednesday that it is extremely unlikely that Congress will expand Post-9/11 GI Bill transfer rights to include people who have already retired from the service and that any changes in the education benefits program are a year away.
Michael Brinck, Republican staff director for the House veterans’ economic opportunity subcommittee, said he believes the House and Senate will be able to reach a compromise next year on bipartisan legislation to improve the year-old veterans’ education program — but money could limit what provisions are included.
Speaking during a panel discussion arranged by the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, Brinck predicted that the House and Senate would each pass their own GI Bill improvement packages next year and that a compromise bill would be passed by no later than September. Changes would not take effect right away because the Veterans Affairs Department has asked for delayed implementation dates to give time for smooth transitions.
One proposal popular with people who retired from the service before the Aug. 1, 2009, effective date of the Post-9/11 GI Bill would extend transfer rights for GI Bill benefits — currently available only to those still on active duty or in the reserves — to those who retired before that date with 20 years of service.
“I don’t see backdated transferability” as part of any compromise bill, Brinck said.
He did not mention that one reason that idea might be dead is that its chief sponsor, Rep. Ciro Rodriquez, D-Texas, was defeated in the November elections. Unless someone else steps forward to champion the cause, it will be a quiet death for an idea popular among military retirees who were disappointed that they retired before even knowing about a benefit that could help pay for the college education of a spouse or children.
A living stipend for people taking distance-learning classes, something not allowed under the current program, is likely to be part of a compromise bill, Brinck said, but he was unwilling to predict whether this would be the full living stipend proposed by distance-learning schools or the half-pay approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in August, when it passed a package of GI Bill changes.