New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and 45 Members of New York City Council Urge Congress not to Cut GI Benefits.

Bipartisan Letter to Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell States: “We ask that you oppose H.R. 3016 and any other bill that attempts to reduce benefits to our post-9/11 veterans.”

NEW YORK- New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito along with 45 City Council Members sent a letter to House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell today urging Congress to not pass legislation which would reduce benefits owed to post 9/11 veterans and their families. This past week, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee removed cuts to the Post- 9/11 GI Bill from their version of the bill, however, the House legislation still includes a 50 percent cut to the Basic Allowance for Housing stipend and is a vital part of the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said: “The Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits thousands of New Yorkers and we should not be cutting it. This legislation is essential in ensuring veterans with children can afford housing while also continuing their education and any cuts to it must not pass Congress. Congress must restore the benefits and stand up for our brave veterans who served our country after 9/11.”

Council Veterans Committee Chairman Eric Ulrich said: “Congress should not look to balance the budget on the backs of our veterans. These cuts would deal a catastrophic blow to the thousands of New York veterans who rely on these benefits to simply stay in their homes. We have a moral obligation to stand up for those who have defended our great country.”

The letter states: “Approximately 2.8 million men and women have served in our armed services post-9/11. To permit cuts to their benefits sets a dangerous precedent. Many of these veterans served in harm’s way in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and in other dangerous areas. We owe it to these veterans to provide them with the same opportunities and benefits that our country afforded the veterans of World War II and other generations of service members.

As representatives tasked with protecting and assisting our city’s veterans, we ask that you oppose H.R. 3016 and any other bill that attempts to reduce benefits to our post-9/11 veterans. We also respectfully ask that you work to ensure that our nation keeps its solemn duty to the brave men and women who have served the branches of our military and to provide them with all of the benefits that they so richly deserve.”

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell:
We are writing to oppose H.R. 3016 and any other legislative action that would reduce the benefits owed to post-9/11 veterans and their families.

On February 9, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3016, entitled the “Veterans, Employment, Education and Healthcare Improvement Act.” Unfortunately, H.R. 3016 includes a 50 percent cut in the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) stipend provided to children who will have their parent’s post-9/11 GI Bill benefits transferred to them. This stipend is a vital part of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. Cutting it in any way would go against our nation’s solemn duty to provide assistance to our veterans upon the completion of their service.

This past week, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee stood with new veterans by not including these cuts to the Post-9/11 GI Bill in their version of the bill, entitled the “Veterans First Act”. We must now ensure that the House removes their cuts as well.

New York City is home to more than 200,000 veterans, including more than 22,000 post-9/11 veterans. The New York City Council has been working closely with our city’s Department of Veterans’ Services to help ensure that these veterans are receiving all of the quality services that they and their families are entitled to. We have also been working hard to end veteran homelessness.

Unfortunately, the cuts in the BAH stipend that H.R. 3016 seeks to impose will make it much more difficult to meet our moral obligation to prevent homelessness among the families of veterans. In fact, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America estimates that these cuts will result in a monthly reduction of $1,818 in benefits for the children of New York City’s veterans.

Approximately 2.8 million men and women have served in our armed services post-9/11. To permit cuts to their benefits sets a dangerous precedent. Many of these veterans served in harm’s way in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and in other dangerous areas. We owe it to these veterans to provide them with the same opportunities and benefits that our country afforded the veterans of World War II and other generations of service members.

As representatives tasked with protecting and assisting our city’s veterans, we ask that you oppose H.R. 3016 and any other bill that attempts to reduce benefits to our post-9/11 veterans. We also respectfully ask that you work to ensure that our nation keeps its solemn duty to the brave men and women who have served the branches of our military and to provide them with all of the benefits that they so richly deserve.