The U.S. House of Representatives on March 10 approved a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) to discharge federal student loan debts for disabled U.S. military veterans.
“Our veterans put their lives on the line for our country and they deserve all the help we can provide them,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “It was great to see this bipartisan bill pass the House, and I look forward to the Senate doing the same.”
Reps. Fitzpatrick and Reschenthaler are original cosponsors of the Federally Requiring Earned Education-debt Discharges (FREED) for Vets Act, H.R. 3598, which they proposed in June 2019 with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA). The measure has 67 other cosponsors.
In October 2018, the U.S Department of Education established a program with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to identify veterans who are disabled or unable to work and who have federal student loan debt that could be discharged. While more than 42,000 eligible veterans have been identified for the program, less than half have applied for it.
If enacted, the bill would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to automatically discharge the loans of certain veteran borrowers, according to the text of the bill.
“I am grateful we could come together today to provide long-overdue assistance to our nation’s heroes,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “Disabled veterans face many obstacles when returning home, but this bill will remove the barriers that prevent them from eliminating one of those burdens. I hope the Senate will act quickly to send this bill to President Trump’s desk so we can provide the certainty of law for our nation’s disabled veterans.”
The bill is widely supported, including by Student Veterans of America, the Wounded Warrior Project, the American Council on Education, as well as 51 state attorneys general and multiple tax law experts, among others.
The U.S. Senate received H.R. 3598 on March 11 and referred it to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee for consideration.