Posted : Wednesday Jun 3, 2009 14:55:38 EDT
WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats are using an approximately $100 billion war funding bill to give recently expanded GI Bill education benefits to the children of military service members who die while on active duty. The provision, pressed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, would give GI Bill benefits — which were greatly expanded last year — to each child of a service member killed in action or while on active duty, instead of a single family member as permitted under current rules.
Spokespeople for both Pelosi and the House Appropriations Committee said the plan would be included in the war funding bill — despite not having passed either House or Senate during initial consideration of the legislation last month. It would cost $164 million over the next decade. House-Senate negotiators are putting the finishing touches on the war funding measure in hopes of sending it to President Barack Obama for his signature next week.
The new GI Bill that passed last year essentially guarantees a full scholarship at any in-state public university, along with a monthly housing stipend, for people who serve in the military for at least three years. It was aimed at replicating the benefits awarded to veterans of World War II and more than doubled the value of the prior benefit. The move also lobs a political hand grenade at GOP leaders, who are organizing Republican opposition to the war funding bill, which would also provide $5 billion to cover the risk of default on a new $100 billion line of credit for the International Monetary Fund.