GOP blocks jobs bill for veterans in the Senate
The Senate blocked legislation Wednesday that would have established a $1 billion jobs program putting veterans back to work tending to the country’s federal lands and bolstering local police and fire departments.
Republicans said the spending authorized in the bill violated limits that Congress agreed to last year. Democrats fell two votes shy of the 60-vote majority needed to waive the objection, forcing the legislation back to committee.
Supporters loosely modeled their proposal after the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps used during the Great Depression to put people to work planting trees, building parks and constructing dams. They said the latest monthly jobs report, showing a nearly 11 percent unemployment rate for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, merited action from Congress.
Republicans said the effort to help veterans was noble, but the bill was flawed nevertheless.
Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said the federal government already has six job-training programs for veterans and there is no way to know how well they are working. He argued that making progress on the country’s debt was the best way to help veterans in the long-term.
“We ought to do nothing now that makes the problem worse for our kids and grandkids,” Coburn said.
Democratic officials did not have an estimate for how many veterans would be hired as a result of the legislation. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said much would depend upon the number of applicants. She noted that more than 720,000 veterans are unemployed across the nation, including 220,000 veterans who have served since Sept. 11. She said putting veterans back to work was the cost of war.
Jobs, jobs, jobs.
A handful of Republicans joined with Democrats in voting to waive the objection to the bill: Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Maine’s Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. Brown and Heller are also in tough re-election contests.
Common sense does show itself every now and then among the Republicans. If only the reactionaries in the GOP could see past their narrow worldview.