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The bill, which passed the Senate by voice vote, would ensure students whose classes are moved online continue to receive GI Bill benefits

Senator Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, co-sponsored the legislation, which passed the Senate on Monday

Bill follows two letters from Senator Murray pushing the Department of Veterans Affairs to be prepared to aid veterans and communities during the coronavirus pandemic 

Senator Murray: “As we weather this crisis, we must ensure our veterans don’t fall through the cracks” 

(Washington, D.C.) – With help from U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, this week the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill allowing veterans on the GI Bill to continue receiving full benefits as colleges move classes online to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

Housing allowances under the Post-9/11 GI Bill are based on whether student veterans attend a university in person versus an online program. As colleges and universities close campuses to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, veterans on the GI Bill could lose or have their benefits cut. This bill would allow these student veterans to continue to receive full benefits even if the colleges they are attending decide to close or temporarily move classes online due to coronavirus. Senator Murray helped introduced this bill last week with U.S. Senators Jerry Moran and Jon Tester, respectively the Chairman and the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

"I’m glad the Senate was able to move quickly to address this glaring issue, hopefully avoiding needless hardship for so many of our nation’s veterans," said Senator Murray. "The GI Bill is part of the promise that we make to take care of our veterans when they return home, and as we weather this crisis, we must ensure our veterans don’t fall through the cracks. I’ll keep fighting to make sure our veterans in Washington state, across the country, and those serving around the world continue receiving the benefits they’ve earned through their courageous service to our country.”

Senator Murray has been helping lead the charge in the Senate to ensure that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking appropriate measures to protect veterans from coronavirus. In a letter on February 6, Senator Murray and her colleagues called on VA to increase coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure that the Department is fully equipped to handle, monitor, and contain the spread of coronavirus. Senator Murray also doubled down on this effort by sending a second letter to VA on March 13, to increase the agency's steps to increase response and preparedness, coordinate with Federal, State, and local governments, provide quality screening and health care, secure funding, and improve communication with veterans and Veterans Service Organizations.

As the coronavirus pandemic has hit the U.S., and particularly Washington state, Senator Murray has worked to ensure Washington state received nearly $11.5 million in federal funds as part of the first emergency funding package to help support frontline efforts to keep the public safe, and has fought to secure additional personal protective equipment for the state’s frontline health care workers from the National Strategic Stockpile. Senator Murray is also pushing to pass new legislation she’s introduced to provide all workers 14 emergency paid sick days, available immediately during the current coronavirus pandemic and future public health emergencies, pass new bills to strengthen federal support for children, students, teachers, and other school staff facing school closures, and connect small business owners with the federal Small Business Administration to help get them the federal assistance that they need.

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