Tempers flare as Senate advances veterans' jobs bill

"We just completed this vote to a waste of 30 hours on this," Reid said after the vote on the motion to proceed. "We now have to wait two days to continue … we’re going to come in after midnight Friday on this."

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Paul has said he'll filibuster all legislative action, holding up bills until he gets a vote on his own legislation to stop all foreign aid to Pakistan. He also accused Reid of "filling the amendment tree."

"What a charade and farce," Paul said. "They don’t even pretend to work with the other side."

In his own defense, Paul said he wasn't obstructing, he only wanted 15 minutes of the Senate's time on an amendment vote for his bill.

Reid suggested that his "friend from Kentucky should have run from Secretary of State rather than the Senate." He also said that he hopes an agreement on amendments is reached so that the Senate doesn't have to stay in town until roughly 3 a.m. Saturday. 

The Veterans Jobs Corp Act would create new job-training programs to help veterans find work in targeted fields such as national park conservation, historic preservation projects, police work and firefighting, among others.

“It’s not enough to give our veterans a pat on the back for their service, we also need to give them a helping hand into the jobs market,” Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a floor speech Wednesday.

The $1 billion bill is paid for with new revenue over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office reported that the three new sources of that pay for the legislation would raise $1.2 billion after 10 years — but the bill would only be in effect for five years.

Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said the bill violates the Budget Control Act since it would increase the Veterans’ Affairs Department budget by $1 billion.

“The Veterans Job Corp bill could be a positive piece of legislation, I’m not speaking about the intent of the bill, but as ranking member of the budget committee, I have to point out that this bill violates the budget,” Sessions said on the floor Wednesday. “What this new bill, with good purpose, does is spend a billion dollars more than we agreed to spend.”

Murray and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) led the effort for the legislation. Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-N.C.) Republican alternative bill was incorporated into the legislation to make it more bipartisan.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called the bill a political “charade” earlier in the day since most lawmakers don’t want to vote against veterans’ issues.

“What’s really happening here is we’re playing the political card because how could anyone oppose the Veterans Job Corp?” Coburn said. “The better question is how callous it is to put forward a bill that we don’t know if it will work.”

Coburn said he thinks more time should be spent evaluating the six veteran job programs already in existence to see how effective they are before passing another.

Republican Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Jim DeMint (S.C.), James Inhofe (Okla.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Lee (Utah), Paul and Sessions voted no.

S. 3457 would establish a Veterans Job Corps for five years. The bill would set up a pilot program that would allow veterans to search for jobs on a new website, and create “one-stop job centers” where they could receive help using the site, if needed. 

The bill would also establish a Transition Assistance Program for veterans and their spouses in a few states with the highest levels of unemployed vets.

Some veterans receive on-the-job training while in service, but that doesn’t always transfer over into civilian life. S. 3457 would make it easier for veterans to get job certifications and licenses in states by counting military training that’s relevant to become certified as a nursing assistant, or to get a commercial driver's license or an EMT license. 

Burr’s additions, among other things, help veterans and their families who are small business owner by giving them preference with government contracts.

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