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Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I rise today to speak on the veterans jobs bill. That is the legislation before us. We voted on it last night, and we will likely be voting on it again today and possibly tomorrow. I rise to speak on that bill.
I have in fact offered an amendment to the bill because we should do all we can to support our veterans. It is very important. They put their very lives on the line for us, and we need to do all we can to support them. But we need to do it the right way, and that is why I am offering this amendment. We are talking about creating jobs for our veterans. The right way to do that is long-term jobs, quality employment, not short-term stimulus-type jobs. That is exactly why I am offering this amendment to the legislation that would include approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline project.
The VFW, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, is an organization that does a tremendous amount for our veterans. We all know the VFW. We all know the great work they do on behalf of our veterans. The VFW is already working to help returning vets get jobs--and that is great. They are working to help our returning veterans get jobs constructing the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The only problem is those jobs are in Canada. Those jobs are in Canada because they have not approved the Keystone XL Pipeline in the United States. After 4-plus years, it is still in the permitting process. Since the administration has approved the project, we need to step up and approve the project, and we can do that. This amendment would do that.
I want to talk a little bit about what the VFW is doing to help veterans get jobs in the energy industry by doing things such as building the Keystone
XL Pipeline, as I mentioned, right now in Canada. VetJobs is a job placement company of which the VFW owns 10 percent, so it is partially owned by the VFW. They are working with the Edmonton Economic Development Corps to hire Canadians in Edmonton and the surrounding area in Alberta. Of course, we can see that is where the pipeline is being constructed in Canada. They are working right now to hire vets to work on such things as the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Several days ago I spoke with Ted Daywalt. Ted Daywalt is the CEO of VetJobs. He told me that in Alberta they have listings in 17 different job categories and they could use between 12,000 and 15,000 people in Alberta, Canada, just working in the energy industry. Why not put those veterans to work right here at home? We all want to have good-quality jobs, but we want to have it near our home and not have to go to a different country to get that job.
The Perryman Group estimates that the Keystone XL Pipeline will create 15,000 to 20,000 direct construction jobs right away, and that it will create thousands and thousands of permanent jobs in addition to those construction jobs. That is without spending any tax dollars, that is without adding to the deficit, that is without adding to the debt, and that is jobs here at home, not in Canada. Also, TransCanada, the company building the Keystone XL Pipeline, gives a hiring preference to veterans. They give a hiring preference to veterans in Canada and they give a hiring preference to veterans in the United States.
In fact, they also sponsor a program that is actually delivered by a nonprofit entity called Helmets to Hardhats. They train returning veterans so they can do these kinds of jobs. So we can make these quality, long-term, permanent jobs available right away here in the United States by supporting this amendment. In addition, we get more safe, dependable, reliable energy.
Has anyone checked gas prices recently? It is more than $3.80 a gallon on average in this country. That is more than double what it was when this administration started in office.
There is another benefit as well. We reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East. Now compare this legislation to the Veterans Job Corps proposal we are looking at in the bill that is under consideration right now on the Senate floor. The Veterans Jobs Corps proposal spends $1 billion. At this time we are $16 trillion in debt, and that is growing. We have legislation that spends $1 billion to create government jobs for our veterans. Well, let's take a look at those jobs. We want to create 20,000 jobs with that $1 billion, so that means $50,000 a job for 1 year. Then what do we do? We spent $1 billion, we created a bunch of temporary jobs for 1 year. Then what do our veterans do? Do we spend more to try to keep this going? Where does this go?
Instead of doing that, by approving this legislation I have offered, we can create thousands of more jobs and we don't spend anything and it creates tax revenues, it creates economic activity, and it reduces the deficit. It also helps us generate more energy for this country instead of more government spending, a bigger deficit, and temporary jobs.
I think our veterans would very much appreciate knowing that they are working on producing and transporting more energy for the country and that they are helping to reduce gas prices at the pump for our hard-working taxpayers and our consumers. I think they would also appreciate the fact that we are working to reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East. Maybe that way we would not have to send them back to the Middle East for energy or security reasons. I think our veterans would appreciate that.
The proposal we are putting forward creates permanent jobs, and it creates them the right way. I encourage support for it because it is about supporting and creating jobs in this country the right way and supporting jobs for our veterans.
This amendment is about jobs, and it will help our veterans. It is about energy that will help hard-working Americans with gas prices at the pump. It is about economic growth which will help our economy. Economic growth and better control of spending is what we need to do to address the deficit and the debt. This legislation is about energy security, to make our Nation more energy secure.
Here are my concluding questions: Why wouldn't we vote on this amendment? Why wouldn't we have a vote on this amendment? Why wouldn't we approve it for the benefit of our economy, for the benefit of the American people in our country and for the benefit of our veterans?
I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.
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