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Rep. Ilhan Omar wants GI bill for all Americans

Then-candidate for Minnesota State Representative, Ilhan Omar speaking at a Hillary for MN event at the U of MN. (Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons)
February 10, 2020

Minnesota Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar shared her support for a Marine Iraq War veteran’s article calling for the U.S. government to provide a college education for all Americans via the G.I. Bill.

The G.I. bill is a benefit provided to members of the U.S. military, helping them seek higher education in colleges and trade schools. Will Fischer, a USMC veteran who enjoyed the benefits of the G.I. bill, wrote a recent op-ed in which he argued for providing similar education opportunities to all Americans — an op-ed Omar voided support for on Thursday.

“Imagine what it would do for our country and those who live here if we were to take the ethos behind the original G.I. Bill and apply it to everybody—canceling all student debt and making public colleges, universities, and vocational schools tuition-free,” Omar said, retweeting Fischer’s article.

Fischer argued that canceling student debt and making college tuition-free for all Americans would not only relieve millions of students in debt, but would also benefit the economy at large. Fischer also criticized the idea that the U.S. should use college financial support as a means of encouraging its citizens to take on military service.

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“I have no doubt the same will come to pass during these campaigns—’Want more affordable college? Want to avoid student debt? Join the military…,'” Fischer wrote. “This argument offers not only a false choice, but also an immoral one—suggesting that individuals should have to choose between having an opportunity for a future by participating in never-ending U.S. wars or not having such an opportunity; making one choose to either put on a uniform or take on crushing debt.”

Omar’s endorsement of Fischer’s article sparked controversy online as many Twitter users, including veterans, filled Omar’s comments with replies criticizing the proposal.

“The GI Bill was earned by agreeing to serve my country for six years and to put my life at risk as an infantryman in Afghanistan,” wrote Chris Manning, a combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan. “It wasn’t something just given to me with nothing expected in return. Don’t cheapen our sacrifice w/ this comparison.”

Another user said the ethos behind the G.I. Bill is one that cannot necessarily be transferred to the general public.

Omar has been a vocal proponent of canceling student debt and providing tuition-free college. In June, she proposed legislation the Student Debt Cancellation Act of 2019, along with Rep. Pramila Jayapal, and Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders to cancel $1.6 trillion in student debt for 45 million Americans.