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With the unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq higher than the national unemployment record (10.9% to 8.1%), the creation of a job program that helps veterans should have been an easy call, particularly in an election year. But it was not to be.
Citing cost concerns, Senate Republicans this week blocked legislation designed to create a Veterans Job Corps that would have spent $1 billion over five years to put unemployed veterans back to work. The Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012, loosely based on the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, would have put ex-soldiers to work preserving and restoring federal, state and local lands and find them jobs in firefighting and police work.
The Republicans used a budgetary point of order to stop a straight majority vote on the bill. Instead, 60 votes were needed to proceed, and supporters of the bill were only able to muster 58, with 40 Republicans banding together to vote no.
Five Republicans–Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine—joined Democrats in supporting a motion to waive budgetary objections and allow lawmakers to vote on the bill, but it wasn’t enough.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida), said Republicans refused to support the plan because it was a priority of President Barack Obama. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) countered it was the legislation’s price tag that he and other Republicans disliked.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Bill To Create Veterans Job Corps Fails To Advance (by Steve Vogel, Washington Post)
GOP Blocks Veterans Jobs Bill With Budget Vote (by Ramsey Cox, The Hill)
Meet the 40 Senate Republicans Who Betrayed Veterans By Killing $1 ... (by Jason Easley, Politicus USA)
Combat Veterans Find Military Service Can Hurt Job Prospects (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)