Congress moved to reward veterans of the Persian Gulf war with an assortment of improved benefits, including more special pay and education and health benefits.
On a 398-25 vote, the House passed a benefits package Wednesday and sent it to the Senate, which began debating its own version of the bill.The House bill came in for some criticism because it circumvents last year's budget agreement by linking the package to the gulf war emergency, and also proposes that money contributed by U.S. allies be used to pay for some of the benefits.
Some of the improved benefits would be available to veterans of service not related to the gulf conflict.
The bill increases combat pay from $110 to $150 a month effective Jan. 16, to cover the period of actual fighting against Iraq, and increases the death payment for next-of-kin from $3,000 to $6,000, effective with the start of the gulf crisis, Aug. 2, 1990.
Monthly payments to surviving spouses and dependents also would be increased by the House bill and apply the to all veterans effective next October.