The measure could get a vote on final passage as soon as Thursday if an agreement is reached to do so.
In the meantime, Senate Democratic leaders are pushing to attach an amendment designed to encourage businesses to hire veterans. It would provide tax incentives for hiring unemployed veterans, similar to a provision in Obama’s jobs plan, as well as job-training initiatives for unemployed veterans. The cost of the amendment would be offset by the extension of fees set to expire as part of a veterans mortgage program.
Senate Democratic leaders hope Republicans will support the bill because of the repeal of the 3 percent withholding proposal and because the veterans’ amendment is supported by House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.). The underlying withholding bill overwhelmingly passed the House, 405-16, on Oct. 27.
Senate Republicans sought to have their chamber also take up the withholding bill last month, but the proposal did not win the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, in part because the measure would have been offset by a rescission of fiscal 2012 discretionary spending.
Senate Democratic leaders also hope that the measure will be the vehicle to get the first piece of Obama’s jobs plan into law.
The offset for the amendment was originally designed to pay for just veterans’ jobs-training legislation, but an agreement was reached between Miller and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to include the tax incentives.
“This agreement is a bipartisan and comprehensive approach to getting our nation’s veterans back to work,” Murray said in a statement Monday. “It includes Republican and Democratic ideas because getting our veterans the financial security and dignity a job provides should never be partisan. For too long in this country, we have patted our veterans on the back for their service and then pushed them out into the job market alone.”
“Today, we are putting aside politics and putting America’s veterans first. This is how the process should work,” Miller said in a statement. “As in any negotiation, neither party gets everything they want, but we found common ground as the House pledged to do in September. I am hopeful that through the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, we can break the logjam of legislation that is currently pending and get all unemployed Americans back to work.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.