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Senate Should Pass Bill To Create Veteran Jobs Corps

Joseph Hines

A military hiring expo, which provides jobs training to veterans. House Republicans hope to expand these sorts of programs. The Senate proposition directly hires veterans as police officers and firefighters. (Photo Courtesy of the Pennsylvania National Guard)

On the heels of a disappointing jobs report last week, Congress returned from recess on Monday with several options for how to help create jobs. All of those options involve some increase in this year’s deficit or a rise in taxes to offset the revenue, a non-starter to conservative ideologues. 

One of the best solutions is to employ returning veterans. Veterans struggle to find jobs after they return home with a consistently higher unemployment rate than the national average, nearly eleven percent in August.

Our State of Young America report showed how veterans not only have a harder time finding jobs when they return home, they have lower wages:

Today the Senate took a step in the right direction finally passing a bill creating the Veteran Jobs Corps, which has been languishing in Congress since February, 95 to 1 (Rand Paul was the only Senator to vote against). The Veterans Jobs Corp would hire veterans into the civilian workforce as police officers or firefighters. It would serve both struggling veterans, and the communities they reenter. Although the program would cost $1 billion over five years, it won’t increase the deficit, as the bill’s entirely funded by collecting delinquent taxes from Medicare providers. 

But that’s not enough for conservatives in the House of Representatives. Instead of taking on the pressing issue of unemployment, the House Veterans Affairs Committee will be focusing on oversight of the Veteran’s Administration this week. Most observers expect that they won’t enact the bill. Their reasoning? The bill will create “temporary jobs,” while raising taxes (even if those were taxes that are already owed.) 

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), the bill’s author:

These folks have already done the tough, tough jobs. We need to give them as many opportunities as possible to succeed when they get back home.

The ball is in the House’s court.

Temporary jobs are better than no jobs. And temporary jobs help to create a more robust recovery. It’s time to stop talking about abstract job creation and start acting. Not only should they provide jobs to veterans, they should enact a national program to address hire unemployed workers now. 

UPDATE: Over objections that the bill isn't paid for, the Veteran Jobs Corps stalled in the Senate today with a vote of 58-42, failing to reach cloture. Another sign that Congress isn't serious about creating jobs, even for struggling veterans.