WASHINGTON -- If it could only be this easy every day.
On the day before Veterans Day, the US Senate approved legislation everybody could agree on: a jobs bill to help unemployed veterans get back to work.
Democrats and Republicans alike lined up to take credit, including Massachusetts Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown.
The legislation would provide tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed veterans. It was inserted into a larger piece of legislation -- the repeal of a 3 percent withholding tax on government contractors championed by Brown.
“This bill also gives a much needed boost to unemployed veterans and improves assistance for the transition from military to civilian life—and it’s fitting that these items passed in time to honor our military on Veterans Day,” Brown said.
“I hope today’s victory is a sign of things to come. In this case at least, it seems the Senate has cracked the code for overcoming the gridlock,” Brown said. “President Obama, Senate leaders and the American people have proof that sincere, bipartisan jobs legislation can be passed if negotiated in good faith. Congress must seize this momentum and work in a bipartisan way to pass more jobs legislation.”
Passage of the veterans jobs bill could provide some solace to Democrats, whose recent attempts to win passage for some of President Obama’s jobs packages -- to hire more teachers, firefighters and construction crews -- withered against Republican opposition.
The jobs bill was of particular importance to Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran.
“We’ve got a new generation of veterans coming home to an economy that’s in trouble and I’m sickened when I read the unemployment rates and foreclosure rates for veterans,. It’s wrong,” he said. “Helping these men and women find jobs and get back to work is a sacred obligation. The least we can do is help these veterans and their families transition to civilian life. This bill is a down payment on the work we need to do.”
The bill would include tax credits of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been looking for work for at least six months, $9,600 for hiring veterans with disabilities unemployed for at least half the year, and job training and other services.
The House is expected to take up the jobs bill next week.