WEYI NBC 25 Flint: U.S. Sen. Gary Peters backs veteran workforce development plan amid COVID-19

As negotiations continue in Washington for the next COVID-19 relief stimulus package, one of Michigan’s U.S. senators wants another group of Americans to get some help.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, backed a plan with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Arkansas, to extend GI Bill benefits for veterans whose registered apprenticeships were cut short or paused due to COVID-19. Peters said currently, veterans need to meet minimum number of hours to get their full benefits, but some have been met with limited opportunities.

The plan from Peters would extend the benefits for up to 120 days and would allow veteran apprentices who were laid off to roll over hours from a previous month to meet the hourly requirements.

To get the benefits into the hands of veterans quickly, Peters said he wants his proposal to be included in the next COVID-19 relief plan, which is being hashed out.

The Republican-backed plan, which reportedly does not have complete support from the GOP caucus, is known has the HEALS Act; contrary to the HEROES Act passed in the U.S. House and the CARES Act that has been passed and implemented.

The HEALS Act would include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans, but critics argue – including Peters – it doesn’t go far enough to secure funding for unemployment and support to states for COVID-19 related expenses as recovery begins in some areas, while also handling surges nationwide.

“It falls short in terms of assistance for families, it falls short in terms of assistance for businesses and to our local governments. Quite frankly, it doesn’t address the fundamental problem which is the public health crisis and the need to have testing more robust,” Peters said. “More importantly right now for testing, is to get results a whole lot quicker.”

He said lawmakers “clearly cannot leave Washington” until a deal is made.

“Time is of the essence,” Peters added. “Families can’t wait.”

Source: WEYI NBC 25 Flint