Senate Approves New GI Bill

WASHINGTON, June 27 - The Senate late last night passed and sent to the White House a GI Bill cosponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that will expand education benefits for a new generation of veterans.

Sanders, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said the legislation guarantees a full scholarship to any public, in-state university for veterans who served three years in the military, including activated National Guard troops and reservists. The expanded benefits also could be used for students at private colleges and for graduate schools.

"Today's GI benefits do not come close to covering the cost of a college education. That is why it is so important that we update these benefits," Sanders said.

"People must understand that caring for our service members is part of the cost of going to war," he added. "We are spending nearly $12 billion a month in Iraq. Surely we can spend a little more to provide a college education for the brave men and women we send to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Unlike the GI benefits that transformed American society after World War II, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have discovered that current GI benefits cover only half the national average cost for tuition, room and board.

The legislation offers improved education benefits to those who served in the armed forces after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

"The original GI Bill was an appropriate way for a grateful nation to say thank you to the service and sacrifice of those who wear our country's uniform. That bill also helped reshape the American economy and allowed millions to enter the middle class," Sanders said.

The strengthened veterans benefits were included in legislation the Senate passed by a vote of 92 to 6. A 13-week extension of unemployment benefits was part of the bill.