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Public Statements

Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HELLER. Mr. President, today we come together on the floor of the Senate to remember and honor the victims of September 11, 2001.

Only 11 short years ago on this day, enemies of freedom and equality attacked the United States and murdered thousands of innocent people. From this attack, our Nation grew stronger. United by our flag and our beliefs, America rose to defend the homeland and take the battle to our enemies. And it has not been easy. No, it has been a long 11 years of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But our military and its leaders have brought the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, to justice. And for a decade, America has been safe from the next round of attacks that we all thought were imminent 11 years ago.

None of this could have been accomplished without the brave men and women of our Armed Forces.

On 9/11, the mission of our military changed overnight. Those already enlisted knew they would be heading for war, and many more joined our military knowing that they too would be headed for combat.

From the events of 9/11, the best of America was reborn. A new generation of Americans dedicated to service and preservation of freedom was called to action because of 9/11. These Americans were among the first on the ground in foreign countries. They toppled a dictator, liberated a nation of women and children from an oppressive regime, and brought to justice Osama bin Laden.

Today our overseas operations fighting the war on terror continue. But for many of these soldiers, their tour of duty is over and they are coming home. They are coming home to family and friends and those who love them, but also to a stagnant economy and record high unemployment.

Today, unemployment amongst post-9/11 veterans is 9.8 percent; 192,000 post-9/11 veterans are unemployed, and 443,000 9/11 veterans are not even participating in the labor force. The policy of this Nation to grow the economy is failing these brave men and women who have fought to protect our freedoms--including economic freedoms.

This week the Senate will take up a bill that will provide $1 billion over 5 years to hire 20,000 veterans. I am proud to support this measure and hope we will have the opportunity to debate it and other job-creating measures before we return home at the end of this work period.

Since coming to the Senate, job creation has been my No. 1 priority. I will
support taking up and debating any measure relating to this issue, especially those that affect veterans. That is why I was proud to reach across bipartisan lines to work to pass the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, and know there is more work to be done. However, it is stunning that we are at this point.

After a $1 trillion stimulus, bailout after bailout, a new government-run health care program that will raise taxes on all Americans, it is time to look our veterans in the eyes and ask: Is this working? Are this administration's policies working for thousands of unemployed Nevada veterans who have come back from their service to find their homes underwater and their jobs lost in this great recession?

It is not working. The bill we are taking up this week is an acknowledgement that the policies of the past 4 years have not worked. As a result of the failed policies of this administration, Nevada veterans cannot find a job.

Our veterans deserve better. They deserve a good-paying job. That is why I will support this measure that we will hopefully take up this afternoon. But I also know there is much more we can do to provide veterans the opportunities they deserve. In addition to supporting cloture on the motion to proceed to this bill, I will also be filing my Veterans Small Business Protection Act as an amendment. I introduced this legislation, along with Ranking Member Burr of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, to ensure that widows and dependents of servicemembers killed in action are not alone to run a small business while grieving over the loss of a loved one.

Congress has provided numerous benefits to our Nation's veterans who own a small business--sole-source contracting, low-interest loans, and other resources, in order to help these small businesses grow and to create jobs. My legislation closes a large gap in Federal law that does little for those who owned businesses before their activation and were killed in the line of duty. As a Member of Congress, we must honor our Nation's fallen as well as ensure that the loved ones they leave behind have the same economic opportunities as afforded to that veteran. It is a small token that we can provide to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for liberty.

I hope we will have the opportunity to offer amendments this week as we debate the veterans job corps legislation and encourage my colleagues to support my veterans small business bill.

In closing, our Nation owes a debt of gratitude to our Nation's veterans, and Congress must fulfill the promises and commitments that have been made to all of them. This week the Senate will continue to work toward providing veterans with a good-paying job, and I support that goal. But if we are going to help small businesses create jobs for veterans and all Americans, we must change the policies coming from Washington, DC, because it is not working.

I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.

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