Hardworking taxpayers across Southwest Ohio have made it clear that their top concern is job creation; it's my top concern as well. With unemployment approaching 13 percent in some areas of the Third Congressional District, we need to be undertaking a robust effort to provide incentives for job creation. That's why I remain disappointed that not only has the Senate failed to pass a budget in over 900 days, but has also allowed 15 key bills to languish as Ohioans remain unemployed. This includes bills which would reduce the tax burden on contractors, decrease regulations on agribusiness and would provide our veterans with tools to be more competitive in their job search.
Current law requires that government at all levels withhold 3 percent of payments to government contractors in order to ensure proper tax payments. H.R. 674, of which I am a cosponsor, would repeal the 3 percent withholding rule requirement. This is an up-front tax on all employers who do business with the government. Many of the contractors who work on government projects operate on profit margins of less than that 3 percent withholding requirement. If the withholding requirement is not repealed, contractors would be faced with the choice of working at a loss and having to eliminate jobs or raising prices and ultimately increasing costs to the taxpayer. This is an area where both Republicans and Democrats agree we need action, and the bill passed the full House by a vote of 405-16. Yet, the bill sits in the Senate awaiting action.
One of the sectors of our economy being hit hardest by the passage of massive regulations by federal agencies and without the consent of Congress is agribusiness. These additional legislative restrictions run counter to what our founders intended when they drafted the Constitution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in particular, has passed on an unprecedented number of regulations to our farming community. In response to this, I have cosponsored H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011. This legislation, which has passed the House and awaits Senate consideration, limits the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in respect to climate change. This also comes in response to the Clean Air Act, which includes planned restrictions on vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases, to be implemented in 2012 and 2017.
With Veterans Day fast approaching, we pause to honor the service of our men and women in uniform. While the national unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent, there has been a sharp rise in veteran unemployment of late -- from 7.7 percent to 8.1 percent nationwide. H.R. 2433, the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act of 2011, of which I am a cosponsor, would take steps to turn back that trend. The VOW Act will help educate and prepare our veterans entering the workforce. Veterans would be in line to receive training benefits, and the bill would grant servicemembers access to a 21st Century Transition Assistance Program. The legislation would also create a uniform credentialing and licensing standard for servicemembers entering the civilian job market, and strengthen the protections under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act for National Guard and Reserve members.
The VOW Act has not only been passed by the House in an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 418-6, it also enjoys the support of several Veterans and Military Service Organizations. This includes the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, the Fleet Reserve Association, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Military Officers Association of America, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the National Association of Uniformed Services, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Yet, the Senate has made no move to bring this bill to the floor for debate or consideration.
The time to act on creating jobs is now. No longer can Southwest Ohio wait for the Senate to act. These three commonsense bills, along with 12 others await and deserve full debate and consideration.