Today, veterans groups were appalled to learn that House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) had drafted legislation that would levee a $2,400 veterans tax on incoming service members.
Roe, a five-term Congressman and supporter of Donald Trump since May of last year, has been accused by veterans’ advocates and Democratic staffers of trying to slide the bill through Congress after a secretive rollout during the Congressional recess.
“The hearing was announced when everyone was gone,” said a Democratic staffer for the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, who spoke to Task & Purpose on the condition of anonymity. “It was hastily and quietly put together… [the committee wants] to go fast, even though we all have questions.”
Despite the attempt to hide the legislation, veterans groups have noticed and are letting their outrage be known.
“This new tax on troops is absurd,” Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander Brian Duffy said. “Ensuring veterans are able to successfully transition back to civilian life after military service is a cost of war and not a fee that Congress can just pass along to our troops.
“Congress must stop nickeling and diming America’s service members and veterans.”
Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), called the tax “ridiculous,” and pledged to “vigorously oppose any and all attempts to impose a registration tax.”
The tax’s purported purpose is to fund the benefits in the Post-9/11 GI Bill, passed by the Democratic Congress in 2008 to guarantee America’s veterans the educational tools they had earned through service to our country. In eight years, the law’s provisions have been utilized by at least 1.5 million veterans and their family members to attend colleges that prepare them to transition into successful civilian careers.
Education funding for veterans has proven to be one of America’s best investments, with the 1944 GI Bill generating nearly $7 in income for every dollar invested. Republicans however, despite the success and constant campaign pledges to “support our troops” have long targeted veterans benefits for cuts. Last year, IAVA had to spearhead a yearlong #DefendtheGIBill initiative, which ultimately helped defeat $4 billion in Republican-proposed cuts to the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
This is just the latest instance of glaring hypocrisy from Republican politicians who put ribbons on their SUV’s when sending American troops to fight their wars, only to abandon them when they return home. But hypocrisy is not the real crime here.
The men and women who volunteer to put on a uniform and risk their lives defending us have earned not only dignity and respect but the resources necessary to pursue their dreams and thrive. America’s service members have made a commitment and fulfilled their obligations to our nation. It is long past time for Republican Members of Congress to do the same.
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