In case you missed our live-tweeting, Senators asked important GI Bill questions of VA Secretary Nominee Denis McDonough at his confirmation hearing on January 27, 2021.  We are grateful that Senators on both sides of the aisle educated Secretary-Nominee McDonough about the issues and put him on notice that Senators care about oversight of GI Bill colleges:
  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) (at minute 1:01:30) “Improving the information VA shares with veterans on the GI Bill comparison tool is essential to make sure veterans can get informed choices on their education. I previously called on DOD and VA to develop a joint policy to counter aggressive recruiting and misleading marketing aimed at our veterans. I want to see improved availability of crucial information such as levels of debt and transferability of credits. Can you commit to providing thorough oversight of GI Bill funds, fully implementing the Protect the GI Bill Act, and making sure that when there is evidence of fraudulent conduct you will take steps to make sure the schools are not allowed to recruit veterans?”
  • Nominee Denis McDonough’s response (1:02:20): “Thank you Senator. The President has indicated to me that a fundamental priority for me, if confirmed, must be ensuring that our veterans have access to employment and education opportunities consistent with their experience, skills, and talent. And consistent with that, I would intend to work collaboratively with you and this committee to ensure that there is appropriately aggressive oversight and measurement on quality outcomes of that programing.”


  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) (at minute 1:09): “We’ve seen far too many veterans and their families targeted by predatory for-profit institutions since passing the post-9/11 GI Bill. Those institutions misrepresent themselves and often saddle student veterans with mountains of debt. Do you plan to exercise additional oversight to rout out misrepresentation from for-profit institutions that target student veterans?”
  • Nominee Denis McDonough answered: “Every decision I make, if confirmed, as Secretary of the Department will be asking two simple questions to advance two simple principles: Are the decisions we are taking increasing access for veterans and are they improving outcomes for veterans? Outcomes on education programming and employment programming have to be a critical part of how the department implements that and executes those programs. So the short answer is yes.”
  • Sen. Brown: “Thank you. We know that the Protect the GI Bill Act provisions [will help stop] the deceptive recruiting by college lead generators — and following the law to cut off GI Bill benefits to those kinds of schools is obviously really important.”


  • Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) (at minute 1:14:35):  “Following up on Something Senator Brown said and Sen. Murray alluded to, Senators Carper, Lankford, Tester, and I will be reintroducing the Protect VETS Act. I don’t expect you to be up to speed on this but it seeks to close the 90/10 loophole so that veterans’ benefits such as the GI Bill are treated as federal funds for accountability purposes. As background, for-profit universities are allowed to get 90% of its funds from the federal government, and 10% as outside the federal government.  Veterans benefits have been included in the 10%.  When Senator Murray talks about targeting veterans, yes they’ve been targeted because they would fill up this gap that the free market wouldn’t provide but rather people with veterans’ benefits could provide, that 10% match for the remainder of the 90. We worked very hard to get a compromise that would protect the veteran, protect the good schools, and be sensitive to sensibilities in both the republican and democratic caucuses. So, protecting the good schools and isolating the bad. We will be bringing this forward knowing you’ll have to look at this. We’d love your engagement on this issue cause we think it is important that we address it.”
  • Nominee Denis McDonough answered, “I’d be happy to work with you on it.”

Senate Veterans Committee video link is here.  (C-SPAN video link is here.)