Yesterday, a pair of bills sponsored by Rep. Bergman passed the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 4162 the GI Bill Planing Act of 2019 passed by a vote of 408 to 0, and H.R. 4477 the Reducing High Risk to Veterans and Veterans Services Act was passed unanimously by voice vote. Rep. Bergman issued the following statement:
Rep. Bergman stated, “I’m thankful that on the day after Veterans Day, my colleagues came together to pass two of my bills through the House. Furthering our mission of keeping our nation’s promises to those who have served, this legislation will help new enlistees in the Armed Services save money by better understanding their future education benefits, and provide oversight to the VA efforts to implement recommended changes to programs that are highly susceptible to fraud, waste, and mismanagement.”
Today, a small and further declining number of student Veterans use the 1984 Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) to earn a degree. A 97% majority instead choose the newer, more effective Post 9/11 GI Bill. However, about 70% of military recruits still make the decision to keep their MGIB eligibility and pay a mandatory $1,200 for this benefit which they will likely never use. Recruits are asked to make this consequential decision within the first two weeks of boot camp, despite being mentally and physically fatigued.
The GI Bill Planning Act would give enlistees six months – instead of just two weeks- to decide whether to pay the $1200 or opt out of their MGIB benefit. Additionally, the bill responsibly ends new enlistee enrollments in the outdated MGIB by October 2029. While the Montgomery GI Bill has helped millions of veterans since 1984, it is time to simplify benefits and help recruits be more informed in their education benefits down the road.
Additionally, Ranking Member Jack Bergman co-led the introduction of H.R. 4477 with Chairman Chris Pappas (D-NH). This bill requires the VA to submit plans to Congress on how it will address issues and recommendations from the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) “High-Risk List.”