Update — The New G.I. Bill

President Bush today signed the $162 billion war funding legislation that includes the $63 billion New G.I. Bill.

According to ABC News, “The GI Bill measure, authored by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., had such extraordinary support from both Democrats and Republicans that White House objections were easily overridden.”

The New G.I. Bill, which will be officially known as the Post 9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, will increase the education benefits of service members, give a monthly living stipend, a yearly expense for books, and offer the benefits to be transferable to spouses and children of service members.

According to the Army Times, “…the lawmaker getting and appearing to deserve the greatest praise for the GI Bill initiative was Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., a freshman senator and Vietnam veteran who said he was just trying to give combat veterans the benefits they deserve.”

“Eighteen months ago, we began with the simple concept that those who have been serving since 9/11 should have the same opportunity for a first-class educational future as those who served during World War II,” Webb said before Thursday’s vote. “Today, we have accomplished that goal. I would like to emphasize that this is not simply an expansion of veterans’ educational benefits. This is a new program, a deserved program.”

Bush praised Webb and John Warner, but he also praised other Republican Senators, including John McCain, who had fiercely opposed the original Webb Bill. McCain, wasn’t even present for the final Senate vote on the G.I. Bill.

Some of the information herein was obtained from the web site, Podcast Patriot,a site that contains some of the most up-to-date, comprehensive and accurate information on the New G.I. Bill, and other military and veterans issues.

Its editor and author, Joshua Hudson, “completed a noteworthy twenty-year career as a military photojournalist, public affairs specialist and videographer. His work promoting positive military awareness and supporting military and veterans issues has had a significant impact on the community.”

Thank you, Joshua.

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Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

  • Neocon

    and offer the benefits to be transferable to spouses and children of service members.

    And as I argued a while back this is exactly what Bush and McCain were holding out for and now they signed a better bill then was initially offered.

    The Democrats scored some political points from this by accusing McCain and Bush of being anti troop but in the end it is Bush and McCain who gave the troops a better bill then the one that was initially offered.

    At least the troops and their families benefited from politics this time instead of suffered.

  • D. E.Rodriguez

    Neocon:

    If I remember correctly, I don't think Bush and McCain were “holding out” for the benefits transferability feature–which, by the way, wasn't such a big stickling point with Democrats.

    Rather, Bush-McCain groaned and moaned, first, that it “would cost too much.” When that didn't fly with Americans, they tried another tack, the “retention” argument, which was also soundly rebutted.

    All in all, this whole issue was a P.R. disaster for “support the troops” Republicans.

    But, I a do agree with you–and am glad–that “at least the troops and their families benefited from politics this time instead of suffered.”

  • runasim

    Good old Bush.

    Ready to take credit for something he was forced into and was theatening to veto. That's why a veto-proof vote was needed to pass the bill, remember?

    Just like daddy GWB, McCain is now busy taking credit for a bill he opposed (he didn't want the benefits to start after one tour), and he didn't show up to vote for. .

    This is the Bush we know, always on the campaign trail for the GOP.
    I sure do wish I will have a president soon who remembers he is the POTUS for all of America, not just his party.

    Speaking of the 3rd Bush term, McCain sure is taking all his cues from Bush on this one.

  • Neocon

    That's why a veto-proof vote was needed to pass the bill, remember?

    If it was veto proof then why would they not just send it to Bush the way it was? He'd veto it, they would bypass his veto and make McCain and Bush look like the Troop hating, unpatriotic morons that all Far lefties claim they are.

    The fact is the initial bill was modified until it was acceptable to all parties and good for those it was intended to help.

    The fact is that the Democrats had thrown in extended unemployment benefits which they knew Bush would veto. He countered their pork with 7 new medicaide rules which the Democrats rejected and better benefits for soldiers by insisting upon transferability to spouses which in fact would encourage soldiers to stay in the military while their spouses could get an education.

    In the end Bush gave in on the Unemployment benefits and caved on 6 of the 7 new Medicaid rules in exchange for better benefits for the GI's. It was the democrats playing politics with this as much as Bush.

    But in the end people benefited and some people just cant get over it. This was a good bill and both sides benefited and Americans benefited. Sorry you'd rather revile Bush then celebrate a victory for the unemployed, Medicaid patients, Katrina Victims, New Orleans and The GI's.

  • Peter_Allen

    Neocon, believe it or not, it's easy to do both at the same time. I'm glad to hear that the bill has passed; I give little praise of its passage to President Bush.

  • DragonflyDM

    I followed this issue very closely. This history of the Bill was initially avoided by Senator McCain until the a few months ago, when Secretary Gates and President Bush both threatened to veto the Bill citing that “if we gave them this Bill, it would hurt retention.” They cited a study that acknowledged that the military could expect a 16% decrease in retention if the new G.I. Bill was passed.

    After that, Senator McCain backed the republican party's leader, until he was able to sign on to a counter G.I. Bill. That Bill offered a flat $2,000 per month program, and the ability to transfer the benefits to the family members.

    While the majority of the G.I. Bill that passed was from Senator Webb's original plan, many of the compromises came from the secondary Bill that Senator McCain endorsed. It was the amendments (and the overwhelming congressional vote) that convinced President Bush to reassess his “veto” and sign the Bill into law.