U.S. Congressman Bill Foster from the 14th Congressional District in Illinois is quickly making a name for himself standing up for our military veterans. The 14th District is the seat vacated by former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert. According to the Daily Chronicle:
Beginning next year, veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces will have easier access to higher education.
But, effective immediately, the U.S. military will have a tremendous new recruiting tool.
Monday, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Batavia, delivered this news to a small gathering of war veterans at the St. Charles Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, lauding the recent passage of the so-called 21st Century GI Bill.
“Right after we have celebrated our independence for the 232nd time, we have a chance to honor and give back to the men and women who make sure we keep on having Independence Days,” Foster said.
Promoted by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, and signed into law by President Bush late last month, the GI Bill enhances college tuition benefits to active-duty service personnel who have served since Sept. 11, 2001. For veterans who have served at least three years, the bill guarantees that the federal government will fund 100 percent of tuition costs at public, in-state colleges and universities and 50 percent of private school tuition.
Veterans who served less than three years can also receive lesser benefits on a graduated scale, beginning at 40 percent of tuition and fees for at least 90 days of consecutive active duty service.
The bill also grants money for all fees, a new monthly housing stipend and $1,000 a year for books and supplies.
There was some opposition to this bill in both parties, but Jim Webb has a solid reputation among veterans, and the bill was supported by many of America’s leading veterans organizations, including the VFW, American Legion, AmVets and others. It had the support of Senator Barack Obama, but, amazingly, became the ill-advised punching bag of one veteran, Senator John McCain. Republicans did not stand with McCain on this one:
In a surprising rebuke to John McCain, 25 of his fellow Republican senators today approved a veterans’ benefits proposal that their presidential nominee has made a controversial decision to oppose.
The veterans’ plan passed today would strengthen education benefits for US soldiers that have not been updated since 1984. McCain, a Vietnam war veteran, echoes the Bush administration’s concerns that the plan could entice too many troops to leave the military for college.
But more than half of Republican senators disagreed, voting for the education proposal offered by Democratic senator James Webb — and against McCain’s stated position.
Bill Foster is turning into a unique blend. He’s spot on for the 14th District. While it might be expected of those of us on the left to continuously bash Republicans, the fact is Denny Hastert represented his constituents well for a very long time. Bill Foster is following that lead: he’s legislating, not politicking. And it’s very refreshing to see that coming from Congress these days.