Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Across the Aisle

Across the Aisle

G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery
Darryl Kehrer
Michael McGrevey
Foreword by George H. W. Bush
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 244
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Across the Aisle
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-967-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-2)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 3-3)
    (pp. 4-4)
    George H.W. Bush

    The late Sonny Montgomery was my friend. We both were elected to Congress in 1966, and we were friends from that day forward.

    The story of the GI Bill that bears Sonny Montgomery’s name is a wonderful lesson for America’s students in how to write a good law. In this book, Sonny tells the story in his own words.

    The Montgomery GI Bill that Congress created in 1987 has helped make our All-Volunteer military the best in the world. America’s sons and daughters who serve in our military represent the very best in character, commitment, and resolve in protecting our...

    (pp. 5-5)
    Darryl Kehrer and Michael McGrevey
    (pp. 6-7)
    (pp. 8-8)
    (pp. 9-9)
    (pp. 10-11)
  9. 1 This is “Sonny:” Honorable Bill Cohen
    (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 about how we successfully worked together on national defense issues, even though he and I were from different generations, regions of the country, bodies of the legislature, and political parties. Senator Cohen’s early leadership and long-term commitment to creating a permanent New GI Bill made a real...

  10. 2 The World War II GI Bill: The Legacy Begins
    (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 unions, and some veterans’ organizations. Not before Congress held 22 hearings and took multiple votes did the GI Bill get to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s desk to be signed into law. After the war, 7.8 million veterans used the GI Bill for education and...

  11. 3 The World War II GI Bill and Beyond: The Legacy Continues
    (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 on the brink of bankruptcy when the mills of war stopped grinding.” However, the $14.5 billion cost of the WW II GI Bill paid for itself by 1960 due to taxes paid on additional income earned by GI Bill graduates. These revenues helped fund the Marshall Plan’s $12.5 billion to rebuild war-torn Europe....

  12. 4 Producing Legislative “Widgets:” Committees, Bills, and Bipartisanship
    (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 the subcommittee first—and then the full committee, second—approves a bill, the Committee sends it to the full body (House or Senate) for consideration. The subcommittee and committee of jurisdiction then remain very much involved in resolving differences in House- and Senate-passed bills. My approach as a committee chairman was not to take a bill to the House floor for a vote unless it...

  13. 5 1980-1983 Road to Enactment: How to Fix a “Hollow” Army
    (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 non-contributory Vietnam-era GI Bill for new enlistees as of December 31, 1975, and created a new, contributory, but ineffective Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) effective January 1, 1977.

    In fiscal year 1979, the four service branches failed to meet their recruiting objectives; and by 1980, only 54 percent of Army enlistees had a high school diploma. My colleagues and I realized our new, all-volunteer military concept would likely fail unless we created...

  14. 6 Late Spring 1984 Road to Enactment: House Passes a New GI Bill Unopposed
    (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 on May 31, which was derived from our bill H.R. 1400, the Veterans’ Educational Assistance Act of 1983. As proponents of the bill reiterated many times, we designed the new program to attract and retain high-quality young men and women in both the active and reserve forces of...

  15. 7 Summer 1984 Road to Enactment: Senate Passes Glenn Test Citizen-Soldier Education Program 96 to 1—First Vote
    (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 Senate approves the Glenn Test Citizen-Soldier Education Assistance Program, 96 to 1. The next five substantive and procedural GI Bill votes are debated in Chapters 8 and 9.

    Principals in the debate throughout were Senators Glenn (D-OH), John Tower (R-TX), Alan Simpson (R-WY), and Sam...

  16. 8 Summer 1984 Road to Enactment: Senate Fails to Table Armstrong Peacetime Veterans’ Educational Assistance Act 51 to 46—Second Vote
    (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 group argued on the grounds that an educational incentive was essential to save the All-Volunteer Force and cure recruiting woes. The Glenn group argued that the Armstrong bill would inflate the already high federal deficit, due to a new entitlement, and that the recruiting picture was not as bleak as...

  17. 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
    (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.

    In the third vote, the Senate voted down 48 to 44 Senator Armstrong’s motion to waive Budget Act requirements¹ (associated with creating a new entitlement for a year for which the budget resolution had not been adopted to pay for it) for his Peacetime Veterans’ Educational Assistance Act legislation.

    In the fourth vote, the Senate approved by unanimous consent (meaning without a roll-call vote) Senator Glenn’s motion to make his test Citizen-Soldier...

  18. 10 Fall 1984 Road to Enactment: House-Senate Conference on the FY 1985 DoD Authorization Act
    (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 compromise three-year, statutory test program in which service members would contribute $100 per month for 12 months so as to become eligible for 36 months (four academic years) of post-service education benefits at $300 per month. Eligibility for the New GI Bill was limited to service members entering the military between July 1, 1985,...

  19. 11 1985-1986 Road to Enactment: Implementing the Three-Year New GI Bill Program
    (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 year. We also won two hard-fought battles we didn’t expect to fight, especially with the test program going so well: (1) an OMB-proposed economic measure to repeal the statutory test program and return to the inferior VEAP program,...

  20. 12 Fall 1986-Winter 1987 Road to Enactment: Gaining House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees’ Approval
    (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. Without it, they were generally restricted to employment-oriented young people. The Veterans’ Affairs Committee leadership, especially that of Senators Alan Cranston and Frank Murkowski, introduced S. 12 to make the New GI Bill permanent. Their leadership largely neutralized OMB’s initial opposition to S. 12 and helped engender support from...

  21. 13 Spring 1987 Road to Enactment: House Passage and Senate Armed Services Committee Approval
    (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.

    At the hearing, Senators John Glenn of Ohio and Pete Wilson of California, Dr. Neil Singer of the Congressional Budget Office’s National Security Division, and the Reagan Administration continued to express various concerns about S. 12. Conversely, the veterans, higher education, and military personnel organizations supported it.

    We’ll review several events that would lead to the full Senate...

  22. 14 Summer 1987 Road to Enactment: Senate Passage, Conference, and Rose Garden
    (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, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate signing the enrolled bill on May 19; and fourth, the President signing H.R. 1085 into law (Public Law 100-48) on June 1, 1987, in a Rose Garden ceremony. Secretary of the Army John Marsh and Assistant Secretary of Defense Chapman Cox had quietly helped...

  23. 15 1987-Present Effect of the Montgomery GI Bill: Creating a Recruiting and Educational Incentive
    (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 nations and international terrorist groups and the continued need for recruiting high-quality youth into our military.

    Through legislation primarily sponsored by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and “Jay” Rockefeller (D-WV), President George W. Bush signed H.R. 1291, the Veterans Education and Benefits...

  24. 16 1987-Present Effect of the Montgomery GI Bill: Affording Postsecondary Education
    (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 degrees, typically in specialized technologies.

    But that’s not all. Many soldiers do not wait until they leave the military to enroll in college or technical training. For example, 798,971 active-duty service members were pursuing associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees during off-duty hours in fiscal year...

  25. 17 1987-Winter 2008 Effect of the Montgomery GI Bill: Developing the U.S. Workforce
    (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 in which other countries produce goods and services more cheaply and about 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders,¹ we have to open more international markets for the goods and services we produce and eliminate trade barriers. As baby boomers reach retirement,...

    (pp. 190-190)
    Mack G. Fleming and Robert (Bob) Bailey

    Chairman Montgomery created educational opportunity for millions of young men and women of our military who otherwise may not have had that opportunity. Indeed I think the Chairman would have described the Montgomery GI Bill’s Oct. 19, 2009, 25th anniversary, fundamentally as a testament to them and their initiative.

    Chairman Montgomery ensured that America’s veterans were represented at the highest councils of government by championing legislation, with Rep. Gerald B.H. Solomon, that made the Veterans Administration a cabinet department.

    Working with fellow Chairman Alan Cranston, Mr. Montgomery played a valued role in enacting The Veterans Judicial Review Act of 1988,...

  27. What’s the True Secret of Good Leadership? There Is None.
    (pp. 191-191)

    Bookstores are filled with hundreds of volumes on leadership and management, many promising the “secret” to being an effective leader. But there are no secrets to good leadership, other than common sense and hard work. Do you remember that first Town Hall meeting when I arrived at State over a year ago? We talked about the qualities and demands of leadership. I laid out some of the principles that are important to any organization if it is to succeed in its mission and maintain the highest morale among its ranks. Let me recap and add a little more.

    Dare to...

    (pp. 192-225)
  29. INDEX
    (pp. 226-239)
    (pp. 240-244)
    (pp. 244-244)