Durbin calls on Congress to do more for veterans by passing two bills

“For too long and on too many important issues, we in this Senate have tied our own hands with excessive rancor and partisanship,” Durbin said. “In this lame-duck session, I hope we will extend a hand of cooperation across the aisle and find a fair and responsible way to meet the enormous fiscal challenges we face while we also invest in our future and honor our commitments, including those we owe our veterans.”

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The Senate tried to pass the Veterans Job Corp Act, S. 3429, before leaving for the election, but Republicans blocked its progress. The bill includes bipartisan plans that would potentially put thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to work, but some Republicans said veterans job programs already exist and more weren't needed.

The mental health bill, S. 3340, aims to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs's suicide prevention, counseling and mental health staffing while expanding some services to family members. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced the bill this summer.

Sunday was Veterans Day, and Durbin said that a way Congress could honor veterans would be to pass both bills.