U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement after his vote in favor of a supplemental appropriations bill for Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009 that updates educational benefits for servicemen and women on active duty, those in the National Guard and reservists who have served since September 11, 2001:
“I greatly favor this update of GI benefits for servicemen and women on active duty, those in the National Guard and reservists who have served since 9/11. This is a great improvement over earlier proposals because it now extends this educational opportunity to the spouses and children of these troops. This is why I originally supported the McCain GI bill, which included this transferability benefit from the beginning. But I’m still unhappy that this GI bill update passed by the Senate treats Tennessee veterans differently from veterans in other states when it comes to the amount of tuition payments, and that is why I will introduce legislation to correct this inequity.”
Alexander noted that under this bill, “an Illinois or Maryland veteran would be eligible for almost $11,000 in tuition benefits, which is almost double the $5,932 a Tennessean would receive. This is simply unfair.”
Alexander is an original cosponsor of Senator John McCain’s comprehensive legislation to update the GI Bill – S. 2938, the Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention and Readjustment Through Education Act – that would ensure that Tennessee veterans receive the same level of education funding as veterans in other states. He is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a former U.S. Secretary of Education.