Tester calls on House to pass measure strengthening 21st Century GI Bill

Senate clears Tester-backed bill improving how VA repays colleges, universities

(U.S. SENATE) – After helping to pass the measure in the U.S. Senate, Senator Jon Tester today is calling on the House of Representatives to quickly consider and pass legislation strengthening the 21st Century GI Bill.

Tester helped pass the new GI Bill in 2008.  Since taking effect, the law has opened up educational opportunities for thousands of Montana veterans who have served on active duty in the military since the terrorist attacks of 2001.

Most significantly, the measure cosponsored by Tester and passed by the Senate extends eligibility to National Guardsmen who served in state homeland security roles. 

More than 300 Montana National Guardsmen were activated to help protect Montana airports after 9/11 or served on the southwest border as part of Operation Jump Start.  

Under this legislation, those Guardsmen would receive service credit for their participation in these operations. The law still requires Guardsmen to have a minimum of 90 days of active duty since September 11, 2001, in order to be eligible for an education benefit.

The bill also:

  • Allows veterans enrolled in vocational or technical education programs to receive tuition assistance;
  • Authorizes up to $1,000 book allowance to individuals while on active duty; 
  • Increases financial support to colleges and universities to help ensure timely and accurate processing of GI Bill claims.

“We’ve seen some huge victories for America’s veterans these past few years, and that includes the new GI Bill,” said Tester, a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  “But I won’t be resting on our accomplishments.  We’ve still got a lot of work to do, and I’m going to keep fighting to make sure Congress lives up to its end of the bargain for the brave folks who’ve stood up to defend our freedom.”

The legislation pending in the House would also allow veterans enrolled full-time in online education to receive a partial housing allowance.

Tester’s landmark Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act became law earlier this year.  The legislation permanently raised the mileage reimbursement rate for disabled veterans, opened up grants to transport veterans to VA facilities, and is strengthening recruitment and retention of quality providers in rural communities.