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Mr. WALZ of Minnesota. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman and the chairman for bringing this bill to the floor. More importantly, I thank you both for your unwavering defense of this Nation in smart policy and an unwavering commitment to make sure we get it right.
I, like my colleagues and millions of other Americans, spent Monday at Memorial Day observances. That's the date we give thanks to those brave patriots who gave the supreme sacrifice so we could all live in freedom. But as the gentleman from Mississippi also said, it's also a time to think of the responsibility we have for those who have served and have come back.
Our responsibility to our veterans is our Nation's highest moral responsibility. After years of war, we have millions of returning veterans who deserve our respect and support. This piece of legislation helps us keep a promise to those brave warriors. As you heard from my colleagues, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act was passed by this Congress--a smart piece of legislation--in 1994. It simply says if you serve this Nation in uniform, you will not be disadvantaged in your civilian-sector job; you will have prompt reemployment when that service is done; and you will not be discriminated against because of current or past military service. It's keeping that commitment that if you put your life on the line, you put your health on the line, you shouldn't have to sacrifice your career progression against your peers just because you were willing to serve this Nation.
That piece of legislation was very clear also that the Federal Government should be a model employer. Also as the gentleman from Mississippi stated, TSA has a very important job of securing this Nation. They have done a wonderful job of hiring veterans. The issue at hand here is asking TSA to abide by the same rules as countless other agencies have. There is not a police force, a firefighting force, a school, or a private employer that hasn't sent a guardsman or a reservist off to do duty. They've had to change schedules and bring them back. In many small towns in my district, when you get a call up from the National Guard unit, most of the police department is gone with them. They've figured out how to do this, and they've done it by abiding by USERRA when they came back home and welcomed them back. It's absolutely unconscionable that TSA wouldn't.
As the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Stearns) noted, they say they're already complying with most of the regulations. They've had time to adjust to this. We need to make sure at a time of high unemployment against our veterans, that we of all people--the Federal Government--throws up no barriers in front of them, but welcomes them back, replaces them in their jobs, and moves them forward. That's not only morally the right thing to do; that's the right thing to do for national defense. These are our best and brightest willing to put their lives on the line. I want them at the front lines at our airports and ports and other places, and we should get them back into it.
I want to thank these two gentlemen for their unwavering work and also the chairman of the VA, Mr. Miller, and Mr. Filner. As was stated earlier, I thank an absolute champion of veterans rights, Mr. Bilirakis, who is the original cosponsor of this.
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