Two days after it had been voted down, the U.S. Senate has now passed an American Legion-backed measure calling for continued funding of Military Tuition Assistance through fiscal 2013. Four services had announced suspension of their financial aid for education programs to meet the demands of sequestration.
The measure is in the form of an amendment to the Continuing Resolution (CR) now being considered by Congress that will fund government operations in the absence of an adopted federal budget.
The amendment was originally offered by Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., earlier in the week but was defeated. The amendment was resurrected today and passed by an overwhelming, mid-afternoon voice vote.
The American Legion, along with fellow advocates VFW and Student Veterans of America, had campaigned vigorously in favor of the measure that, if adopted with the CR, would maintain Department of Defense funding for the military’s program of financial aid to service members pursuing higher education while on active duty. After defeat of their original amendment, Hagan and Inhofe introduced legislation in bill form Tuesday evening to that same end. This prompted Legion National Commander James E. Koutz to issue letters of support to the senators stating, in part, “Military Tuition Assistance is a critical investment in America’s service members and allows them to continue their education and develop their skills while still serving on active duty. Maintaining a professionally educated military is a critical component to ensuring that the United States is well defended and that our nation receives transitioning veterans (who) strengthen our economy.”
In early March, the U.S. Marine Corps announced plans to suspend enrollments in its tuition assistance program. The U.S. Air Force, Army and Coast Guard followed suit within days. The U.S. Navy held fast, with Deputy Chief of Naval Operations Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk announcing that tuition assistance for sailors would be funded until at least September of this year.