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Across the Aisle

The Seven-Year Journey of the Historic Montgomery GI Bill

G. V. "Sonny" Montgomery

Publication Year: 2011

Using gentle humor, some 450 visuals, and debate drawn from actual legislative events, the late U.S. Congressman G. V. "Sonny" Montgomery helps readers relive the Montgomery GI Bill's 1987 enactment, while learning each step of the way.

Across the Aisle's extensive illustrative material brings the legislative process alive, as readers travel the historic legislative road with Congressman Montgomery himself as escort, storyteller, mentor, and colleague.

Congressman Montgomery served his Mississippi constituents for thirty years. Twenty-eight of those years included service on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, fourteen years as its chairman. Montgomery and a handful of colleagues understood that the success of our all-volunteer military would hinge on a permanent "GI Bill" education program.

Indeed the Montgomery GI Bill has proven to help America on many fronts, including postsecondary education and training, national security, military recruiting, workforce and youth development, economic competitiveness, and civic leadership.

Montgomery's unique first-person account brings Washington, D.C., and lawmaking alive with enduring lessons in leadership, persuasion, civility, and that timeless virtue-perseverance.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title, Copyright Page

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pp. 4


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pp. 5

Sonny’s Cast of Characters

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pp. 6-7

Sonny’s Travel Tools

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pp. 8-9

Sonny’s Learning Objectives

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pp. 9

The Legislative Journey

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pp. 10-11

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Chapter 1. This is “Sonny:” Honorable Bill Cohen

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pp. 12-17

My friend Bill Cohen, a former Secretary of Defense, United States Senator, and Representative, graciously highlights in his own words my nearly 40 years in public life. This included 30 years representing Mississippi’s Third Congressional District, chairing the Veterans’ Affairs Committee for 14 years, and serving under seven presidents. Secretary Cohen also speaks...

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Chapter 2. The World War II GI Bill:The Legacy Begins

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pp. 18-25

Knowing the unemployment and poverty that many of his fellow veterans faced in 1918 after World War I, Harry Colmery of The American Legion drafted the World War II “GI Bill of Rights” in December 1943. Although there were several champions of the “GI Bill” in Congress, the list of opponents initially included university presidents, labor...

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Chapter 3. The World War II GI Bill and Beyond:The Legacy Continues

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pp. 26-33

The GI Bill was arguably our most successful domestic program ever. We’ll learn from author Michael Bennett that part of “America’s postwar motivation was fear; fear of another economic depression and what might happen to the country when we dumped 12 million troops into an economy potentially...

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Chapter 4. Producing Legislative “Widgets:” Committees, Bills, and Bipartisanship

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pp. 34-41

Committees and subcommittees are like “little legislatures” because they take the lead in drafting laws in their areas of responsibility, such as veterans’ affairs, armed services, international relations, judiciary, education/the workforce, and small business. When...

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Chapter 5. 1980-1983 Road to Enactment: How to Fix a “Hollow” Army

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pp. 42-55

When both the drafting of 19-year-old males and the Vietnam Conflict ended in early 1973, our military had great difficulty persuading young people to enlist. Congress ended the noncontributory Vietnam-era GI Bill for new enlistees as of December 31, 1975, and created a new, contributory, but ineffective Veterans’ Educational...

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Chapter 6. Late Spring 1984 Road to Enactment: House Passes a New GI Bill Unopposed

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pp. 56-61

Under Title VII of H.R. 5167, the proposed Department of Defense Authorization Act for 1985, the House Committee on Armed Services, of which I was a member, approved on April 19, 1984, a new GI Bill educational assistance program for military personnel effective October 1, 1984. The full House approved this provision...

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Chapter 7. Summer 1984 Road to Enactment: Senate Passes Glenn Test Citizen-Soldier Education Program 96 to 1—First Vote

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pp. 62-75

In this chapter, on June 11, we’ll see the Senate debate extensively the test Citizen-Soldier Education Program, proposed by Senator John Glenn, as an amendment to The Omnibus Defense Authorization Act of 1985 (S. 2723). Also in this chapter, on June 13. in the first of six votes on the Glenn amendment that day, the...

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Chapter 8. Summer 1984 Road to Enactment: Senate Fails to Table Armstrong Peacetime Veterans’ Educational Assistance Act 51 to 46—Second Vote

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pp. 76-89

Following robust debate by both sides, Senators Armstrong, Cohen, Cranston, Hollings, and Matsunaga prevailed in the second vote. They overcame efforts by Senators Glenn, Tower, Simpson, and Nunn to have the Senate table the Armstrong bill, which was conceptually similar to H.R. 1400, as passed by the House. The Armstrong...

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Chapter 9. Summer 1984 Road to Enactment: Senate Passes Amended Glenn Test Citizen-Soldier Education Program 72 to 20—After Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Votes

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pp. 90-99

After two earlier New GI Bill votes on June 13, the Senate debate continued with four additional votes in this chapter, for a total of six in all....

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Chapter 10. Fall 1984 Road to Enactment: House-Senate Conference on the FY 1985 DoD Authorization Act

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pp. 100-111

The 31 House-Senate conferees accepted neither the New GI Bill provisions of H.R. 1400 approved by the House in its version of the DoD Authorization Act nor the version approved by the Senate in the New GI Bill Program amendment. The wee-hours Conference Committee produced a...

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Chapter 11. 1985-1986 Road to Enactment: Implementing the Three-Year New GI Bill Program

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pp. 112-119

Just six months into the three-year test of the New GI Bill, limited to service members entering military service between July 1, 1985, and June 30, 1988, 70 percent of Army enlistees signed up for this new education benefit. Almost four times as many enlistees signed up for the New GI Bill in its first year than for VEAP in its first...

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Chapter 12. Fall 1986-Winter 1987 Road to Enactment: Gaining House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees’ Approval

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pp. 120-129

When we introduced H.R. 1400 in 1981, we had just five original cosponsors. When we introduced H.R. 1085 in 1987, we had 174 original cosponsors. From its beginnings on July 1, 1985, through early 1987, the New GI Bill test program showed recruiters could penetrate the college-oriented population of young Americans....

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Chapter 13. Spring 1987 Road to Enactment: House Passage and Senate Armed Services Committee Approval

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pp. 130-139

The House’s 401-2 passage of H.R. 1085 on March 17, 1987, and the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s February 26, 1987, 11-0 mark-up of S. 12 serve as backdrops to the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing held on S. 12 March 24, 1987....

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Chapter 14. Summer 1987 Road to Enactment: Senate Passage, Conference, and Rose Garden

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pp. 140-153

We conclude the almost seven-year journey with four culminating events: First, the Senate approving S. 12 as amended on May 8, 1987; second, the House and Senate resolving minor differences between S. 12 and H.R. 1085, as amended on May 13, 1987; third,...

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Chapter 15. 1987-Present Effect of the Montgomery GI Bill: Creating a Recruiting and Educational Incentive

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pp. 154-169

Surveys consistently show the Montgomery GI Bill is the primary incentive to which military enlistees respond and that we continue to recruit youth of uniformly high quality. National study group reports of 1997, 1999, and 2001 all warned of the need for a strong military to protect the United States from attacks by rogue...

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Chapter 16. 1987-Present Effect of the Montgomery GI Bill: Affording Postsecondary Education

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pp. 170-177

Initiative breeds opportunity, Alan Cranston said. Surveys show that military service gives young Americans a four-year, post-service education and training benefits some could not have afforded otherwise. More than 2.3 million veterans have used the Montgomery GI Bill since 1985. At the collegiate level, about 45 percent of those are enrolled in programs for two year...

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Chapter 17. 1987-Winter 2008 Effect of the Montgomery GI Bill: Developing the U.S.Workforce

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pp. 178-189

While the mortgage crisis with U.S. banks has adversely affected the world economy and us at home, America’s economy has historically shown remarkable resilience, flexibility, and the ability to rebound even stronger. The challenge to America’s world economic leadership has never been greater. If we are going to grow and compete in a world economy...


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pp. 190

What’s the Secret of Good Leadership?

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pp. 191


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pp. 192-225


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pp. 226-239

Photo Credits

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pp. 240-244

About the Co-Authors

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pp. 244

E-ISBN-13: 9781604739671
E-ISBN-10: 1604739673
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604739664
Print-ISBN-10: 1604739665

Page Count: 244
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Veterans -- Education -- Law and legislation -- United States -- History.
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