The U.S. Senate on March 16 passed bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) to protect GI Bill education benefits for the nation’s military veterans and their dependents who opt to take online classes during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Senate acted quickly to pass this legislative fix to make certain student veterans relying on the GI Bill to attend college would not be stripped of their benefits because universities are temporarily moving to online classes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said Sen. Moran, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “We must make certain veterans can still receive the benefits they’ve earned despite concerns surrounding coronavirus and have the opportunity to earn a college degree and achieve success after service.”
Sen. Moran introduced the bill on March 16 to authorize the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs to treat certain programs of education converted to distance learning by reason of emergencies and health-related situations in the same manner as programs of education pursued at educational institutions, according to the text of the bill.
One of the original cosponsors of the bill, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), said, “I am proud to fight to protect veteran’s education benefits during the coronavirus outbreak. Veterans should not be punished for practicing good public health and transitioning to online classes during this pandemic.”
Among the members joining Sen. Daines in cosponsoring the bill were U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Jon Tester (D-MT).
The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for action.
“This is a great first step, and I urge my colleagues in the House to also act quickly to pass this legislation and send it to President Trump to sign,” Sen. Moran said.