A petition on the White House's website protesting the suspension of the military's popular tuition assistance program has garnered enough signatures to receive a response from the Obama administration.
The Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Marines have all suspended their Tuition Assistance (TA) programs, which provide service members with federal funding to further their education, due to sequestration's budget cuts. The Navy is still reviewing its options, according to the Defense Department.
In less than a week, a White House petition calling on President Barack Obama to issue an executive order reinstating the TA funding has reached more than 100,000 signatures -- the threshold needed to garner a response from the administration. The White House now has 30 days to respond.
On Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Congress was responsible for the programs' suspension because it failed to prevent sequestration's $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts from going into effect.
"Let me be clear: We are here because of sequestration on tuition assistance," he said. "If sequestration were averted, we may be facing a different set of choices on these and other programs. These are the unfortunate outcomes."
The issue has upset lawmakers, currently serving members of the military and veterans. Several lawmakers are looking at legislation to reinstate funding, and service members are trying to figure out how they will fund their continuing education without dipping into their G.I. Bill benefits, which are intended to be used by veterans.