Rep. Cisneros Praises Unanimous House Passage of Bill to Keep Student Veterans Housing During Public Health Crisis

March 19, 2020
Press Release
Rep. Cisneros led a bipartisan call for the House to pass this bipartisan legislative fix

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39) praised the unanimous House passage of a bipartisan bill (S.3503) to protect student veterans’ housing and Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) vouchers during our public health crisis. With most colleges and universities closing campuses and moving to online learning, veteran students receiving BAH vouchers were in jeopardy of seeing benefits slashed, potentially forcing them to fall behind on rent. Following a bipartisan call earlier this week led by Reps. Cisneros (D-CA-39) and Max Rose (D-NY-11) to quickly pass a bipartisan legislative fix, the House of Representatives passed this morning by unanimous consent S. 3503, which already passed the Senate and now goes to the President to be signed into law.

“Every single day, we’re facing an unprecedented number of challenges during our public health crisis,” said Rep. Cisneros, a Navy Veteran and member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “We’ve seen a lot of schools throughout the country drastically transition to online learning. As a result of this sudden change, student veterans were facing severe cuts to their housing allowance. I’m proud to work with Rep. Rose and a group of my Democratic and Republican colleagues to fix this issue quickly and protect the benefits and housing of our student veterans.”

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, veterans receive housing benefits to provide fair housing for students to attend higher education, although rates for online learning or training are much lower than on-site classes for many veterans.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rate for a full-time student utilizing exclusively online training is $894.50—thousands of dollars less than the on-site class rate for many veterans,” wrote Cisneros with fellow Members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in a bipartisan letter to Congressional leadership. “Given the large number of universities converting to online-only education out of caution, veterans will be locked into an unplanned lower BAH rate, and one they’re likely to be unprepared for. We will see a growing population of student veterans forced to make untenable financial and housing decisions, because while their BAH rate will change, they will still need to pay their rent at the end of the month. This unexpected cut to BAH will severely impact their lives, and must be delayed.”

Joining Reps. Cisneros and Rose in signing the bipartisan letter were Reps. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL-12), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP-At Large), Joe Cunningham (D-SC-01), Chris Pappas (D-NH-01), and Susie Lee (D-NV-03).

Full text of letter can be found HERE.