"The president wants Americans to feel the pain of the arbitrary across-the-board budget cuts from sequestration, but to cut off promised education assistance for our service members when there are other lower priority spending programs to draw from is an injustice," said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.
Joining Inhofe is Democratic Senator Kay Hogan of North Carolina. They introduced an amendment on Wednesday to a stop-gap budget bill that would restore the program. Inhofe pointed out that not having the tuition assistance program will hurt individual service members and the military as a whole.
Tuition assistance has always been an incentive for enlistment, and is also the reason many service people reenlist.
While agreeing that the budget cuts are needed, Inhofe suggested that the Defense Department needs to look at finding the money for this particular program. Hagan also commented thats while the Pentagon had some tough decisions to make, cutting tuition assistance is very "shortsighted" on their part.
The Army program gives soldiers as much as $4,500 annually to take courses at accredited schools toward high school and college diplomas. Army officials said 201,000 soldiers used the program in 2012 at a cost of $373 million.
A petition on the White House website to reinstate military tuition assistance now has over 100,000 signatures. The petition says access to higher education can lead to career development as well as professional advancement.