Youngkin Blasts Virginia Democratic-led Senate For Leaving Veterans’ Education Benefits Bill On The Floor

This article was written by Emily Hallas and appeared here first in the Washington Examiner.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) slammed top Virginia Democrats after they declined his request to address the state’s new budget restrictions on veterans‘ education benefits. 

“These men and women deserve so much better,” Youngkin said. 

During a special Senate session on Tuesday, Democratic state Sen. Louise Lucas refused to advance any legislation to address the budget’s changes to a program that waives tuition for survivors and dependents of veterans killed or seriously disabled while on active duty.

Last month, Virginia passed its budget a month late after the Democratic-controlled legislature and Republican governor finally came to a consensus on a $188 billion spending plan. Among the changes to the budget were updates to the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program, or VMSDEP. Virginia lawmakers have faced a backlash for restricting the educational benefits program, including requiring applicants to be Virginia residents, limiting the program waivers to undergraduate degrees, and mandating applicants apply for and use other sources of state and federal financial aid first.

On May 17, Youngkin created a special task force to address the “unintended consequences” the newly passed budget had on VMSDEP. Members of the Virginia General Assembly heard from the state’s military community in a series of meetings starting last Monday. 

Retired SEAL Jason Redman of Virginia Beach, whose youngest daughter is a student at Old Dominion University using the VMSDEP program, slammed the changes during a meeting. “When the bulk of our 9/11 war children are coming of college age, the General Assembly and our educational institutions are saying this is too hard … too hard to sustain this program for the families who have buried a loved one for your freedom,” Redman said. 

With changes to eligibility for VMSDEP set to take effect July 1, Youngkin called for a special session to address the matter, urging lawmakers to repeal the budget’s restrictions.

On Tuesday, the Virginia governor slammed Lucas’s refusal to comply with his request. 

“I stand with our military heroes, first responders, and their families today who are stunned that Senate Democrat leadership failed to even consider a simple bill, supported by a bipartisan majority of Senators, to reverse the changes to VMSDEP by fully repealing the language, and addressing this in the full light of day. These men and women deserve so much better,” Youngkin said. 

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