Critical jobs legislation being held up in Senate
Posted by Tom Tarantino on September 13
UPDATE: 9-13-12, 8:30 PM - Critical Senate vote on Veterans Jobs Corps Act delayed until next Wednesday. Stay tuned for more updates from IAVA.
The Veterans Jobs Corps (VJC) Act of 2012 will help veterans get jobs. This should be something that all politicians can get behind, and usually they do. But if you’ve been watching the Senate floor over the last few days, you’ve seen a lot of parliamentary tricks and misinformation about what the bill does.
So here are the facts about the Veterans’ Jobs Corps Act of 2012:
- - Establishes a veteran jobs corps to hire veterans as firefighters and police officers and for positions in conservation and public works.
- - Makes TAP available off base at a number of locations to assess feasibility of extending the program.
- - Requires states to take into account military training when issuing licenses and credentials.
- - Requires the head of each federal agency to develop a plan as to how they will hire at least 10,000 veterans over the next five years.
- - Improves opportunities for veterans owned small businesses to obtain government contracts.
This bill has the potential to make a big impact in the fight against veteran unemployment because they address many of the systemic challenges our members continuously report when looking for jobs. Many veterans want to continue serving in public service and this bill requires the government to focus on hiring veterans. Our members have said they need better access to job training resources, and by extending TAP, this bill does just that. This bill will extend transition assistance to veterans after they leave the military so that they may continue to receive support as their life goals change. Many veterans are finding it hard to translate military skills and experience into civilian job licenses and credentials. This legislation will require that states count military skills when seeking a relevant license and certification. No piece of paper should stand between a veteran and the jobs they are already qualified to do.
These ideas have also enjoyed long-standing, bipartisan support. In fact, they were proposed by both Democrats and Republicans, including Senator Murray [WA], Senator Burr [NC], Senator Boozman [AR], and Senator Toomey [PA]. The bill represents the exact type of cooperation that we’ve seen from Congress over the last two years to fight for our country’s veterans.
But unfortunately, there are significant hurdles standing in the way of passing the VJC. A small group of Senators, including Senator Paul [KY] and Senator Sessions [AL], are using rhetoric and parliamentary tricks to hold up progress on the bill. Our veterans deserve better than this. They deserve to see swift action when good, bipartisan ideas can make such an impact on one of the greatest challenges confronting veterans and their families.
Tonight, the Senate will vote to close debate on the bill. We’ll need 60 votes to pass that hurdle, but every Senator - on both sides of the aisle – should stand behind the VJC. It’s time to stop the tricks and have our backs.
Tom Tarantino is an Iraq veteran and IAVA's Chief Policy Officer. Follow him on Twitter at @TomTarantino.
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