In a rare showing of bipartisanship in the Senate, a small portion of President Obama’s jobs bill designed to help military veterans find employment passed by a vote of 94 to 1 Thursday. (Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C. was the only Senator to vote against the measure.)
The Vow to Hire Heroes Act would provide tax credits to businesses who hire unemployed and wounded veterans, and was part of the jobs plan President Obama introduced to Congress in September. So far, this is the only part of the $447 billion package to have a chance at becoming law. More substantial parts of the jobs plan, including money for infrastructure and state governments, were blocked by Republicans in the Senate.
According to the White House, a business that hires a veteran who is unemployed for at least four weeks would get a $2,400 tax credit or a $5,600 tax credit for hiring a veteran who has been unemployed for more than six months. A business that hires a long-term unemployed veteran who also has disabilities related to their military service will get a $9,600 tax credit.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., sponsored the veterans bill, which will need to pass in the House before it can become law.
“I hope that my House colleagues recognize how critical this issue is and pass this bill next week when they return to the nation’s capital. It’s no secret that the House and the Senate are divided on any number of economic and political issues facing average Americans. But this is clear. Our veterans is one issue that we should never be divided on and this amendment brings all the ideas to the table and addresses one of our nations’ most daunting and immediate problems — finding veterans work,” Murray said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also praised the bipartisan support for the measure
“I’m pleased to say that today the two parties will pass two important pieces of jobs legislation: Senator (Scott) Brown’s three percent withholding bill, which eases the burden on government contractors, freeing up more money they can use to expand and hire, and a veterans bill sponsored by Senator Murray, that not only helps returning veterans, but the businesses that hire them,” McConnell said. “On their own, these bills won’t solve our jobs crisis — far from it. No single piece of legislation can.”
Democratic aides told the Associated Press that the veterans jobs bill costs $1 billion and would be paid for with a Department of Veterans Affairs fee for backing home loans.
The act was part of a bill that would repeal a requirement that the government withhold three percent of payments to government contractors as a way to ensure that contractors paid their taxes. President Obama supports the repeal and it has already passed in the House. The larger bill passed 95-0.
That will cost $11.2 billion over the next ten years and will be paid for by making it harder for certain Social Security beneficiaries to qualify for Medicaid, the Associated Press reported.
Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.