In the wake of the sequestration cuts going into effect March 1, all branches of the U.S. military accept the U.S. Navy have suspended their Tuition Assistance grant program for active duty service members as a cost saving measure.
Local U.S. Reps. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach, and Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Newport News, are working to get the grants which offer active duty service members, National Guard members and reservists up to $4,500 a tear in grants for college, vocational training or high school completion courses.
Rigell has cosponsored legislation in the House of Representatives that would cut foreign aid to Egypt by $500 million with that money being used to fund the tuition grants until Oct. 1.
“We have an obligation to defend those who defend our nation," Rigell said. "The men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect our freedom deserve the opportunity to receive a quality education. It’s important that we protect educational opportunities for our service members, not defund them.”
Scott has signed a letter along with 45 other House members of both parties asking President Barack Obama's new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagelasking him to direct the federal Department of Defense to reinstate the grants.
“While we understand the Department of Defense must make tough choices in the face of sequestration and current budget cuts, we wholly disagree with the decisions to suspend this critical program,” the letter states.
Scott was the only House member from Virginia to sign the letter.
On the other side of the Capitol the U.S. Senate voted to restore the Military Tuition Assistance grants Thursday in its stop-gap measure to fund the federal government through Sept. 30.