Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1412, the ``Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2013.'' There are over 800,000 veterans unemployed, or unable to find work in the United States, and the number is rising every year. If our brave men and women are to serve at home and abroad, it is our moral obligation to help ensure they can successfully transition into the workforce. For this reason I support the legislation before us.
H.R. 1412 would extend for one month an expiring provision of law that limits pensions paid to certain veterans who are receiving Medicaid coverage in Medicaid-approved nursing homes. The bill also would modify the conditions for veterans to receive education benefit payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for participating in on-the-job training and require VA to enter into agreements with other federal agencies to promote on-the-job training opportunities for veterans.
The Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act will reduce the final OJT/Apprenticeship salary requirements that employers pay of the normal wage from 85% to 75% to encourage employers to offer more OJT/Apprenticeship training for an additional 4 years. The bill also requires other Federal agencies to enter into agreements with the Department of Veterans Affairs to hire veterans using the OJT/Apprenticeship benefit and extends reduced pension benefits for certain veterans in Medicaid funded nursing homes.
If enacted, CBO estimates that, on net, the bill would decrease direct spending by $14 million over the next five years and by $12 million over the next ten years. Because the bill would affect direct spending, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. Enacting H.R. 1412 would not affect revenues. In addition, implementing H.R. 1412 would have an insignificant effect on discretionary spending.
Mr. Speaker, instead of returning home to their loving families, friends, and loved ones, 12 percent of veterans--about 1 in 8--are returning home to find unemployment lines. We owe it to these men and women who selflessly served our nation to help them change their condition for the better. The legislation before us, H.R. 1412, is a step in the right direction for veterans across the country and for many of the 35,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars who live in the Houston metropolitan area.
Mr. Speaker, I urge all my colleagues to join in me in supporting H.R. 1412, the ``Job Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2013.''