Republican and Democratic chairmen announced a deal on a veterans’ jobs package today after Democrats agreed to drop proposals for tax increases on the rich.
The deal, announced by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) appears to clear the way for swift passage of the bill.
The measure follows a formula Murray laid out last week: It includes President Barack Obama’s proposed tax credits for hiring veterans with bills written by Miller and Murray aimed at boosting training, education and employment for veterans, who now face higher unemployment rates than the rest of the population.
“It includes Republican and Democratic ideas because getting our veterans the financial security and dignity a job provides should never be partisan,” Murray said in the statement.
“This is how the process should work,” Miller said. “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.”
The announcement was emailed to reporters shortly after Obama blasted Senate Republicans for blocking his jobs proposals at a noon Rose Garden event touting his veterans’ initiatives.
“They’ve had three chances to do the right thing; three times they’ve said no,” Obama said. “I believe it’s time they said yes. ... Our veterans did their jobs. It’s time for Congress to do theirs. It’s time for them to put country before party, put our veterans back to work and pass this element of the jobs package that benefits our veterans.”
Senate Democrats plan to vote this week on the package. Democrats said last week that the package would be paid for by extending a fee on VA home loans and by squeezing savings from VA providers instead of taxing millionaires. Republicans have repeatedly defeated bills that seek to tax the rich to pay for more job creation.
In the meantime, the president pointed to executive actions his administration is taking to help unemployed veterans, including a new website aimed at connecting veterans to employers seeking to hire them and a new “gold card” service for unemployed veterans at job training centers.
The initiatives are part of the White House’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative aimed at showing the president is taking action, even if Congress won’t.
Murray also serves as co-chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.