This is Not a Flip-Flop: McCain Applauds Webb’s GI Bill
All it took was a little transferability language…
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced his support today for a popular veterans’ education proposal after the bill was tweaked to allow soldiers to transfer the benefits to family members. That change, McCain contends, will provide incentive for troops to remain in uniform longer — a provision he says is vital for an all-volunteer military.
McCain’s opposition to the original proposal, sponsored by Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), a fellow Vietnam veteran, had caused a stir among vets groups earlier in the year and threatened to become a thorny issue for the Arizona senator on the campaign trail. (After all, how can you claim to support the troops if you don’t support the troops?)
But the White House, negotiating with House Democrats, neutered the issue this week by agreeing to a compromise bill that added the transferability language.
From McCain’s statement:
I am very pleased that the important education benefits that will be provided to our veterans and service-members will include the option for those currently serving to transfer educational benefits to their families and in that manner encourage retention. That has always been my primary concern with respect to the Webb bill, and it is essential that we continue to act decisively to encourage military service and ensure the well being of our All Volunteer Force. With the addition of the transferability provisions sought by Senators Graham, Burr, myself and others to give service-members the right to transfer earned G.I. Bill benefits to spouses and children, we will have achieved in offering [a] vastly improved educational benefit while also offering incentives for continued service by the most capable, experienced NCO’s and officers.
The House is expected to pass the bill Thursday as an amendment to an emergency war spending package. Seems like everyone — Webb, the White House, veterans, McCain — made out well on this one. Everyone, of course, except the Blue Dogs, whose push to make Congress pay its bills has failed once again.