GI Bill Progress Snagged
House Democrats hoping to expand education benefits for post-9/11 war vets face a tough road ahead after the cost estimate became public yesterday, revealing a 10-year pricetag of $51.8 billion. Chamber leaders had hoped to attach the proposal to the emergency war spending bill set to hit the House floor next week. The education amendment would update the current GI Bill to provide Iraq and Afghanistan war vets with full state-school tuition after three years of service.
But conservative Democrats — the so-called Blue Dogs — are balking at the costs, which are not offset by increased revenues or cuts to other programs. (Emergency bills are exempt from pay-as-you-go budget rules, meaning the increased costs would be covered by money borrowed from overseas.)
In this morning’s Washington Post , Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), a Blue Dog, is quoted as saying:
We have a duty as a country to tend to [returning soldiers]. But we also have a duty as a country to pay for them.
Funny that the same rule doesn’t apply to costs surrounding the other elements of the war. The supplemental spending bill is expected to include an additional $162.5 billion to keep the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan running — none of it offset.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) told reporters yesterday that the intra-party spending conflict would be resolved before next week:
We will see next week when we come to the floor what we have. I am very confident that next week we will come to the floor with a bill that has the full consensus of the Democrats and hopefully can attract a large number of Republicans as well.
That’s different than saying, however, that the expanded GI Bill would be included.