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Rep. Courtney Leads Bipartisan Coalition Urging Protecting of Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Benefits Ahead of House and Senate Conferencing of 2020 NDAA

August 14, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) led a bipartisan coalition of 32 Members of Congress in writing to the leadership of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to urge that the final, conferenced version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) include Rep. Courtney’s amendment to protect the transferability of Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits for some of America’s most seasoned servicemembers. 

In their letter, the Representatives offer their strong support for the inclusion of Section 574 of H.R. 2500 – the House-passed version of the FY2020 NDAA, which contains Congressman Courtney’s bipartisan amendment – and note their opposition to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) proposed changes from June 2018, which included new restrictions on Post-9/11 G.I. Bill that deemed servicemembers with more than sixteen years of service ineligible to transfer education benefits to their spouses and children.

“We strongly disagree with this change in policy,” wrote the bipartisan coalition. “It unfairly targets servicemembers, and disadvantages servicemembers who marry, remarry, or have children later in life—significant life events which might encourage a servicemember to leave the military.

“In response to this new policy, H.R. 2500 includes Section 574 which was unanimously adopted by the House Armed Services Committee and would restrict the Secretary of Defense from prescribing regulations on Post-9/11 G.I. Bill transferability eligibility based on a maximum number of service years, effectively blocking the implementation of restrictions like those announced in June 2018.

“We believe it is time to settle this issue permanently and urge you to include Section 574 in the final, conferenced FY 2020 NDAA.”

Congressman Courtney’s letter to the House and Senate conferees on the FY2020 NDAA is available online, and is included below.

Congressman Courtney has led the effort to block this proposed rule change since it was first announced in 2018, when he led a bipartisan letter to then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis calling on the DOD to reverse the decision. He won bipartisan support for his amendment to scrap the rule change during this year’s 116th Congress, and in June the amendment was approved by the House Armed Services Committee during consideration of H.R. 2500, the FY2020 NDAA.  The House voted to pass H.R. 2500 in July, and House and Senate leadership are expected to meet to negotiate a final, conferenced version of the NDAA in the coming weeks.

Rep. Courtney’s amendment has drawn support from a number of veterans’ organizations, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), who submitted a petition to the Pentagon last fall requesting that the DOD reconsider the policy, and in July applauded the House of Representatives for passing the NDAA with Congressman Courtney’s amendment.