7/28 Erik Paulsen Correspondence Corner : Veterans Educational Assistance

Erik Paulsen regularly issues a video Correspondence Corner in which he responds to constituent questions.
It is a great ploy — Congressman Paulsen determines what question is to be answered … thus, providing him an opportunity to portray himself as effectively responding to issues that he wishes to address as if they are the most critical issues that voters want addressed.
The MN Political Roundtable will be evaluating Congressman Paulsen’s responses and encouraging readers to offer their own assessments.

Today’s topic, H.R.3218 – Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017.

Tomorrow’s topic, Russia sanctions.

Quick Question :
Would another Congressman do something more ?

As you ponder that question, did you see this tweet ?

Well, it was the subject of Congressman Erik Paulsen’s Correspondence Corner

Hmmm … funny thing is that the week started off with House lawmakers rejecting legislation on Monday that would provide $2 billion in emergency funding for the Veterans Choice Program … the $2 Billion would have come by extending pension reductions for Medicaid-eligible veterans in nursing facilities and continuing fees on VA-guaranteed home loans.
Congressman (Washington must do more with less) Paulsen voted for that measure, but it failed.

Guess, we can assume that Congressman Paulsen didn’t get any letters on that … but he did get one from Colleen in Edina urging him to support H.R.3218 – Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017.

Wow, it’s a good thing that Colleen was able to get here letter delivered during the quick nine-day window between the bill being authored and being voted on.

Well, H.R.3218 – Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 is effectively an omnibus bill composed of 17 separate bills and 28 provisions to improve the education benefits :
H.R. 43 – Post-9/11 Educational Assistance
H.R. 245 – Veterans’ Education Equity Act
H.R.1104 – Veterans TEST Accessibility Act
H.R.1112 – Shauna Hill Post 9/11 Education Benefits Transferability Act
H.R.1216 – Protecting Veterans From School Closures Act of 2017
H.R.1331 – Veterans Success on Campus Act of 2017
H.R.1379 – Purple Heart Recipients Post-9/11 Educational Assistance
H.R.1384 – Reserve Component Benefits Parity Act
H.R.1793 – Veterans Education Priority Enrollment Act of 2017
H.R.1956 – Caring for the Families of our Wounded and Fallen Heroes Act
H.R.1989 – Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses Act
H.R.1994 – Vocational Education and Training Enhancements for Reintegration Assistance Now Act
H.R.2068 – Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Education Relief and Restoration Act of 2017
H.R.2099 – GI Bill Fairness Act of 2017
H.R.2100 – Work-Study for Student Veterans Act
H.R.2103 – Julian Woods Yellow Ribbon Program Expansion Act
H.R.2108 – GI Bill STEM Extension Act of 2017
H.R.2257 – Guard and Reservists Education Improvement Act
H.R.2549 – GI Bill Processing Improvement Act

For the record, Congressman Paulsen only sponsored two of those bills — H.R.1384 (Reserve Component Benefits Parity Act which he discussed in the video as it was sponsored by all eight members of the Minnesota delegation) and H.R.1989 (VET TEC Act which was sponsored by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy).

Surely, the #MathGuy would be concerned about the cost of HR 3218. It is estimated at $3.4 billion over 10 years … and in the spirit of “Washington must do more with less” the monies will generated by impacting future GI Bill users monthly housing stipends.

So, it would appear that it would be hard for anyone to vote against … and no one did.

OK, let’s actually give the Veterans Affairs Committee credit on this omnibus bill — they put a lot of good things together … many bipartisan ideas and made positive changes for our future veterans. Particular credit should be given to Luke Messer (R-IN-06) and Mark Takano (D-CA-41) as well as Committee Chairman Dr. Phil Roe (R-TN-01) and Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-MN-01).

Considering the abject failure of the House to pass anything of positive substance, H.R. 3218 is probably the first good bill this session.

For example one item of interest to some of Congressman Paulsen’s constituents might be that changes will be made to assist GI victims of for-profit colleges that have closed.
Funny thing is that Congressman Paulsen didn’t mention the closings of for-profit schools, including the 136-campus ITT Technical Institute in September 2016. ITT Tech was a trade school that marketed heavily to troops and had a Minnesota presence. Veterans who were using their GI Bill will have the opportunity to get those loans discharged.

Other important changes include : ending the 15-year time limit on using GI Bill education benefits; and allowing Purple Heart recipients to be eligible for full GI Bill (previously, they would have had to serve for at least three years to be eligible for the GI Bill — which may be difficult if you have been injured before the three year requirement is met.)

So, yes, let’s praise the House for this action … yet, ya gotta wonder why they have failed to take action on other important veterans’ legislative proposals, such as :

H.R. 299 – Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017
H.R. 632 – Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act
H.R.1206 – Reducing Barriers for Veterans Education Act of 2017
H.R.1279 – Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act
H.R.1445 – Veterans Reimbursement for Emergency Ambulance Services Act
H.R.1472 – Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act of 2017
H.R.2198 – Veterans Crisis Line Improvement Act
H.R.2452 – Deborah Sampson Act
H.R.2827 – Voices for Veterans Act
H.R.3272 – Veteran Education Empowerment Act

So, going back to that original Quick Question :
Would another Congressman do something more ?

Yeah, there is a lot more that the House needs to work on … unfortunately, they are on recess until September.

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