Merkley Denounces Republican Obstruction of Vets Bill

Washington, DC – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after Senate Republicans killed a bill that would improve health care, education and job-training benefits for veterans. 

“Supporting our veterans should not be a partisan issue. Our men and women in uniform have stood up for us, and we must stand up for them. Unfortunately, the Republicans are putting politics over good policy for our veterans. Oregon’s veterans deserve better.” 

The Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014 would help the Veterans Administration work to end the backlog of claims for benefits, improve care and benefits for victims of sexual trauma, expand educational opportunities for veterans, and help encourage the hiring of vets by renewing the Vow to Hire Heroes Act.  

The bill also includes Senator Merkley’s Spouses of Heroes Education Act, which would grant education benefits to brave military spouses who lose their partners in the line of service. Currently, spouses of fallen service members are only eligible to receive federal education benefits under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program. This program provides an allowance of up to $936 per month, but it often does not cover the full cost of tuition and fees. The Spouses of Heroes Education Act amends the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill to expand the Fry Scholarship, which provides full in-state tuition and fees to children of service members who have died in the line of duty. This change would allow spouses to receive the full cost of public, in-state undergraduate tuition and fees, plus a monthly living stipend and book allowance.