House lawmakers question VA’s ability to meet deadline for GI Bill changes

House lawmakers question VA’s ability to meet deadline for GI Bill changes

by Nikki Wentling
Stars and Stripes

WASHINGTON – Department of Veterans Affairs officials tried to assuage doubts from House lawmakers Thursday about the agency’s ability to successfully implement changes to veterans’ education benefits later this year.

Following a missed deadline in the fall, the VA set a new expectation to have the changes in place by Dec. 1, in time for the spring 2020 semester. Members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Thursday brought VA officials to a joint hearing on Capitol Hill, where they questioned whether the department could follow through.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t just a bit skeptical,” said Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla. “After all, last year these same kinds of assurances were given to the committee time and time again.”

The Forever GI Bill, approved by Congress in 2017, is a major expansion of veterans’ education benefits. When officials went to make the necessary changes to its information technology systems in the fall, they faced critical errors that resulted in late and incorrect monthly living stipends for student veterans.

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