Jewish war vets avoiding G.I. bill debate

The Jewish War Veterans is steering clear of the leading presidential candidates’ feud over a new G.I. bill.

U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have been trading barbs over the bill proposed by freshman Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.). The bill, which the Senate passed 75-22 on May 22, would give troops returning from war a free college tuition.

Webb’s bill is attached to an Iraq War spending measure that President Bush has threatened to veto. McCain, worried that soldiers will leave the army earlier to take advantage of the benefit, has proposed a less generous plan. Obama supports the Senate version.

A spokeswoman for the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America said her organization is advocating for compromise because neither the Senate nor McCain’s version “will pass in their entirety.”

“We want veterans to get the best possible bill they can get,” she said.

The spokeswoman said the organization is not lobbying for the issue, but rather is “following it closely and looking at what bill will come out of a compromise.”

President Franklin Roosevelt’s original 1944 bill allowed returning World War II veterans to obtain a college education or vocational training.

“Many of our members have benefited greatly from that bill,” the spokeswoman said.

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