Saturday, August 5, 2017


Washington, D.C. - August 5, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Senate has passed bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to ensure the United States promotes women’s meaningful inclusion and participation in mediation and negotiation processes undertaken in order to prevent, mitigate or resolve violent conflict. The Women, Peace and Security Act would further the commitments contained in the United States’ National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

“Women are effective problem-solvers and mediators, yet they are often excluded from peacekeeping and mediation efforts,” Senator Capito said. “As women continue to assume more leadership roles in international affairs, this legislation will help build on that momentum and promote their inclusion in peace processes.”

“Women and girls are disproportionally affected by violence and armed conflict around the world, yet far too often they are under-represented at the negotiation table,” Senator Shaheen said. “This bipartisan legislation makes ending violence against women and girls a top diplomatic, development, and foreign assistance priority, empowering more women and allowing them to more effectively affect change in our world. I look forward to working with the House to move this legislation and put women at the forefront of American foreign policy and peacebuilding around the world.”

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, between 1992 and 2011, women represented fewer than 4 percent of signatories to peace agreements and 9 percent of negotiators. In 2015, only 3 percent of UN military peacekeepers and 10 percent of UN police personnel were women.

The National Action Plan released in December 2011 expresses the United States’ commitment to empower women as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace around the globe. The Women, Peace and Security Act would ensure that the goals and objectives of the National Action Plan are integrated into future foreign policy decisions and that the United States continues to lead in promoting to women’s participation in peace and security efforts for years to come.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017

Washington, D.C. - August 5, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The United States Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan bill to modernize and strengthen education benefits for Washington state veterans, Reservists, and their families. The legislation is now headed to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 will break down barriers to education benefits by getting rid of the arbitrary 15-year window, allowing veterans to use their GI Bill education benefits for life. Cantwell has worked to remove the time limit placed on accessing GI Bill benefits since 2007 when she introduced the Montgomery GI Bill for Life Act.

"For more than 70 years, the GI Bill has opened the door to higher education for millions of service members and veterans who wouldn't otherwise have had the chance to pay for college. By removing the arbitrary time limits, our veterans can get the valuable skills training and education they need to succeed in life outside the military when it is the right time for them to do so,” said Cantwell.

Of particular importance to Cantwell, the bill makes critical investments in student veterans who pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering or math fields, as well as technical and vocational careers. The bill also allows Guardsmen and Reservists to count their training, deployments, and medical treatment related to their service towards accruing education benefits like their active duty counterparts.

“In Washington state, our tech industry is booming and creating new jobs every day,” said Cantwell. “By ensuring our veterans can access STEM education or use their on-the-job computer science training, they can fill these jobs and power the 21st century economy.”

Computing jobs are growing in every industry and in every state. There are currently more than 20,000 open computing jobs in Washington state, and more than 500,000 nationwide. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates there will be 4.4 million jobs in computer and information technology occupations by 2024. Despite the clear need for a workforce with coding and programming skills, many veterans have been unable to use their GI benefits to access coding and computer science training programs.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act also does the following:

  • Extends the Yellow Ribbon Enhancement Program, which provides education benefits to survivors of those who died in the line of duty.
  • Transfers benefits to a dependent if the servicemember dies before being able to use them.
  • Restores benefits to student veterans who received credits or training from certain educational institutions that subsequently close.
  • Reinstates the Reserve Educational Assistance Program for Reservists.
  • Prorates licensing and certification benefits, rather than charging veterans a month’s worth of benefits.
  • Extends full education benefits to recipients of the Purple Heart.
  • Provides more on-campus educational and vocational counseling services for veterans.