Roe: G.I. Bill to be enhanced

Hank Hayes • Jul 14, 2017 at 6:30 PM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe touted on Friday new legislation that would expand and extend the G.I. Bill for military veterans.

“What this bill did was make the G.I. bill a lifetime benefit,” Roe, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said in a conference call with reporters. “It’s a very comprehensive bill. … It’s fully paid for.”

The bill would remove time restrictions to use the G.I. Bill, as opposed to the current 15-year limit; simplify the benefit for future service members by consolidating the G.I. Bill into a single program over time to reduce the VA’s administrative costs; provide significant increases in G.I. Bill funding for reservists and guardsmen, dependents, surviving spouses and surviving dependents; provide 100 percent G.I. Bill eligibility to Post 9/11 Purple Heart recipients; and pay for veterans to take certain high-technology courses.

What’s getting done in Washington that isn’t being reported by the news media?

“Here’s an example: If we get all these appropriations bills done, that’s remarkable,” Roe, R-Tenn., responded. “No one knows about that. They don’t see that every day. It’s not stuff that makes the news. … All these things we’ve done in the VA, they don’t get reported much. If (fired FBI Director James) Comey or (Special Counsel Robert) Mueller are on TV, nobody even knows we did it. We passed the (VA) Accountability Bill and nobody ever knew it happened until it was signed into law and went to the White House … the hard work of government.”

Will House members be out of Washington for the August recess if the Senate stays to finish Obamacare repeal/replace legislation?

“(House GOP) Leader (Kevin) McCarthy said, ‘Look, I’m not going to keep our members here if we’ve gotten our work done,’ ” Roe answered. “If the Senate goes into August and passes a health care bill, in 72 hours the House will come back. … We will take up that health care bill as soon as the ink is dry in the Senate.”

Will the House and Senate health care bills need to be reconciled?

“I’ve read the Cliff Notes version (of the Senate bill),” said Roe. “Once we’ve had a chance to look at it, we’ll decide whether to take the bill as is or whether we’ll go to (a) conference (committee). That’s not been decided yet.”

Were you pleased that funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission is being restored?

“Yes,” said Roe. “I’ve been supportive of the Appalachian Regional Commission. Secondly, I’m supportive of CDBG (Community Development Block Grants). Our rural communities really depend on those. … We can get water projects done that would never be done.”

What’s in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was passed by the House on Friday?

“Our armed forces are telling us that previous budgets left them stretched thin, so I’m pleased this year’s NDAA provides a 10 percent increase in defense spending, and I’m incredibly proud it includes the largest troop pay increase in eight years,” Roe said.

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