A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation on Tuesday that aims to address ongoing problems with the U.S. Veterans Affairs (VA) Department's handling of reimbursements to veterans for missed or underpaid Forever GI Bill housing benefits, according to a press release.
The Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act seeks to resolve the VA's failure to fully comply with reimbursement rates set by the Forever GI Bill. It would require the VA to end improper payments as soon as possible; establish a team of specialists who will be responsible to report to Congress a detailed plan to correct this egregious error; provide a report to Congress by July 2020 that identifies how many beneficiaries were impacted and to what extent, aggregated by state; and certify the department is fully compliant with the law.
The legislation is sponsored by Sens. John Boozman (R-AR) and Brian Schatz (D-HI)—Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies—Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Jerry Moran (R-KS).
"Secretary Wilkie has acknowledged the VA's error and promised that all affected recipients would be compensated, but the department’s plans to remedy the situation fall short. This bill aims to hold the department accountable to its promise and ensure that veterans are fully repaid for errors they did not cause," Sen. Boozman said in a press release.
Sen. Boozman also co-sponsored legislation with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) earlier this year that would prohibit colleges from collecting a late fee or requiring GI Bill users to take out additional loans because of delayed payments. Language from the Servicemembers Improved Transition through Reforms for Ensuring Progress Act, S. 3130, was included in a minibus of bipartisan veterans legislation, S. 2248, approved by the House on Monday, Politico reported.
U.S. Senator John Boozman's Press Release