Today, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued a statement criticizing a small minority of senators for blocking passage of the Veterans Job Corps Act (S.3457). Blumenthal, a cosponsor of the bill, has strongly advocated for passage of this legislation that would increase professional training and job opportunities for veterans. Blumenthal will be available to speak on the topic this afternoon.
Under the Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012, states would be directed to expedite the credentialing of veterans seeking state licenses, and veterans would be given the opportunity to serve and protect America by gaining prioritized placement in first responder positions like police, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate overcame opposition to the bill and proceeded to vote in favor of taking up the Veterans Jobs Corps Act, which includes legislative content from senators in both parties. However, the legislation was stalled by demands made by a small minority of senators to attach separate, unrelated legislation to the Veterans Jobs Act, preventing the bill from proceeding to a vote.
Of the 97,000 veterans in Connecticut who are in the civilian labor-force, 6.2 percent are unemployed.
"Obstructionist maneuvering is blocking jobs assistance vital to American veterans. The Veterans Jobs Corps Act, currently a victim of legislative gridlock, would vastly expand veterans' employment opportunities. I am disappointed and angry that a small minority in the Senate is blocking this bill and my amendments -- threatening to leave veterans behind when they need help the most.
My amendments to this bill would help veterans by providing additional resources to veterans' vocational rehabilitation programs, expanding programs that treat Post Traumatic Stress, and fighting back against prescription drug overdoses that are connected to the increasing number of veteran suicides. Additionally, the VOW to Hire Heroes Extension Act of 2012, which I introduced this week, would also help veterans find employment by allowing employers to receive a significant tax credit when they hire veterans. Tax credits for employers have already encouraged the hiring of veterans in Connecticut and nationally, and my amendment would extend tax credits for an additional four years.
I urge my colleagues to join in strong bipartisan support, and abandon efforts to attach irrelevant measures that only block and delay this vital veterans jobs bill. The U.S. Senate should put partisanship aside and take action on this important measure that will help put our veterans back to work. Creating jobs for veterans is the right thing to do for them and for America."
Blumenthal introduced amendments to the Veterans Jobs Corps Act, which would do the following:
1. Allow for Victory for Veterans stamps to be printed to raise funds for VA vocational rehabilitation programs.
2. Establish the Veterans Education Outreach Program to help veterans get the most of their GI Bill benefits on campus.
3. Expand the Department of Labor's program to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress to enter the workplace.
4. Require that the rehabilitation and reintegration plans for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury include employment services.
5. Allow the VA to take back controlled substances to better respond to the increasing number of veteran suicides connected to overdoses of prescription drugs.
This week, in a separate piece of legislation, Blumenthal also introduced the bipartisan VOW to Hire Heroes Extension Act of 2012 (S. 3536), a bill that simplifies the hiring of unemployed and disabled veterans. This bill would modify the Work Opportunity Tax Credit process to allow individuals to be considered "qualified veterans" for tax purposes if they simply provide a DD 214 with an honorable discharge, and valid proof of unemployment. The bill would also extend the amount of time employers have to take advantage of tax credits for hiring unemployed or disabled veterans by four years.