Legislation to put veterans to work was defeated on September 19th when Senate Republicans successfully blocked the bill’s advance with a budgetary point of order. The largely party-line Senate vote of 58-40 fell two votes short of the three-fifths majority needed to overcome the procedural objection. Republican senators killed the Veterans Job Corps bill in a partisan effort on a technicality and defend that is impossible to understand. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, has this to say on the floor before the vote: “They’re going to kill it on a technicality. That’s the bottom line here. That’s what’s going on here, and it’s sad.”
The Republican opposition was based on their refusal to support an initiative that originated in the White House. The corps to be created, loosely based on the Civilian Conservation Corps created during the Great Depression, would employ veterans in conservation, resource management and historic preservation projects on public lands. The legislation would also provide for hiring veterans as police officers and firefighters. The measure, which should have passed in the Senate, was derailed by raw display of partisanship. The organization representing the largest number of post-9/11 veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, expressed outrage at the outcome, saying the program would have created thousands of jobs. IAVA founder Paul Rieckhoff had this to say:
Election politics should never stand in the way of creating job opportunities for our nation’s veterans, especially with an official 10.9 percent unemployment rate. We hope constituents, veterans and their families across the country will hold the Senate accountable for this failure.
Members of the House and Senate have a duty to do all within their power to put America’s veterans back to work. At a time when one in four young veterans are unemployed, Republicans in the Senate should put aside the politics of obstruction and pass this bill to help these men and women provide for their families.
Every Democrat and 5 GOP Senators voted to waive the budgetary objections, but the vote fell two votes short. The bill was killed on a procedural objection. It’s hard to believe that 4 GOP members of the Senate, who actually helped write the bill, actually voted to kill it. The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, the country’s two largest veterans’ organizations, want a bill passed. They have expressed their dismay, but still voiced hope for compromise legislation.
Members of Congress, including Republicans – many of whom have never served in the military – don’t hesitate to send young Americans to war. But some of them ignore needs of veterans when they return home from war. We have veterans who have fought in two of the longest wars in U.S. history and who are now being ignored when they come home. That is both shameful and a national disgrace. Playing politics with this bill, designed to help our veterans, is just plain wrong!
Source: Washington Post
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