Rep. Ilhan Omar promotes call for GI Bill to apply to all Americans

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is taking heat for sharing an article calling for the G.I. Bill -- legislation that pays for American service members' higher education -- to apply to all U.S. citizens.

The story, written by Marine and Iraq veteran Will Fischer, who used the G.I. Bill's benefits to pay for his college education, argues that the benefits of paying for veterans' education have far outweighed the costs -- and covering all Americans' tuition would benefit not only those avoiding student debt but the economy as a whole.

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"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 tweeted, quoting the AlterNet story.

But Omar was quickly criticized for advocating such a massive expansion.

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"I'm a recipient of the GI Bill," responded Chris Manning, a veteran who ran for Congress in New Mexico as a Libertarian in 2018. "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. It wasn't something just given to me with nothing expected in return. Don't cheapen our sacrifice w/ this comparison."

Cam Edwards, a gun-rights activist, also made the point that veterans earn their G.I Bill benefits, in contrast with those who choose not to go into the military.

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"My dad was a WWII vet who went to Brown University on the GI Bill. He still worked as a truck driver on the side to pay for his family's food and housing while attending school full time," Edwards tweeted. "He didn't get 'free' college. He paid his way with his service to the nation."

Omar, who also received some support for the expansion, has previously pushed for the idea in legislation.

Along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Omar introduced a bill that would "eliminate tuition and fees at all public four-year colleges and universities," in addition to trade schools, community colleges and apprenticeship programs.