House Passes Three of Rep. Mike Levin’s Bipartisan Bills to Improve Veterans’ Education and Economic Benefits
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed three bipartisan bills Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced to help veterans start their own businesses, protect veterans’ GI Bill benefits during national emergencies, and allow military families to get out of contracts under certain circumstances. The House passed Rep. Levin’s Student Veteran Emergency Relief Act, which was amended to also include Levin’s Emergency Relief for Servicemembers Act and his Veteran Eligibility for Necessities To Undertake Rewarding Entrepreneurship (VENTURE) Act.
“Veterans and military families deserve economic benefits that work when they need them, whether that’s to start a business, pursue higher education, or to protect their financial security. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case, and it’s past time to improve the benefits they have earned,” said Rep. Levin. “The Student Veteran Emergency Relief Act will ensure veterans can still access GI Bill benefits during national emergencies like the pandemic. The Emergency Relief for Servicemembers Act will allow servicemembers to terminate contracts under certain circumstances when the military orders a permanent change of station. And the VENTURE Act will expand eligibility for the self-employment portion of the Veteran Readiness and Employment program so more veterans can start their own business. All three bills are going to improve economic opportunities and financial security for those who have served our nation. I was proud to introduce them, and I am excited to see them pass the House today.”
Student Veteran Emergency Relief Act: Rep. Levin introduced this bill with Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) to extend GI Bill flexibilities that Congress established for COVID-19 to all emergencies. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Congress has passed several bills to address the effect of the pandemic on student veterans’ education benefits and employment. However, these flexibilities expired on June 1, 2022. The Student Veteran Emergency Relief Act would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to extend those GI Bill flexibilities during any future emergency that is declared by the president.
Emergency Relief for Servicemembers Act: Rep. Levin introduced this bill with Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) to allow servicemembers and their families to terminate telephone, cable, and internet service contracts if they receive military orders for a permanent change of station (PCS) but then receive a stop movement order due to an emergency situation like the COVID-19 pandemic. Some military families have suffered personal financial losses after entering telephone, cable, or internet service contracts for their PCS move but then receiving a stop movement order from the Department of Defense, forcing them to pay for services in two locations – one for their current duty station and another at their intended PCS location. Rep. Levin’s legislation amends the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to allow servicemembers to terminate a telecommunications contract without penalty upon receiving a PCS order followed by a stop movement order. It also expands contract protections to spouses and dependents who accompany servicemembers during relocation, and expands the definition of covered contracts to also include gym memberships, fitness programs, and home security services.
Veteran Eligibility for Necessities To Undertake Rewarding Entrepreneurship (VENTURE) Act: Rep. Levin introduced this bill to foster veteran entrepreneurship by expanding veterans’ eligibility for the self-employment portion, or “track,” of the Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program. Currently, this track is only open to veterans “with the most severe service-connected disabilities who require homebound training or self-employment,” resulting in just 162 veterans participating in the self-employment track in 2021 out of 80,680 veterans using the VR&E program overall. Rep. Levin’s Veteran Eligibility for Necessities To Undertake Rewarding Entrepreneurship (VENTURE) Act would expand veterans’ eligibility for the self-employment track to all veterans who are eligible for the VR&E program.