The Senate has approved a jobs bill that provides businesses with a tax credit for hiring unemployed veterans.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., hailed the passage of the bill. He has been pushing for similar legislation since 2009, when he introduced the Veteran’s Employment Transition Act, or VETs, Jobs bill.
“This bill helps to make sure our veterans have access to the good-paying jobs they deserve when they come home from fighting for our country,” Baucus said in a statement. “The tax credit for businesses who hire returning service members makes a smart investment in our economy, and this bill will help make veterans more competitive in the job market by making it easier to translate the valuable skills they learn in the military into the civilian workforce. This bill is a win for our economy and the right thing to do for our veterans.”
The bill passed by the Senate Friday includes a version of Baucus’s tax credit for businesses that hire veterans. The legislation would provide a $5,600 tax credit for hiring long-term unemployed veterans who have been unemployed for six months or longer in the past year, $2,400 for hiring short-term unemployed veterans who have been unemployed for between four weeks and six months in the past year, $4,800 for service disabled veterans hired within one year of being discharged, and credits of up to $9,600 for hiring veterans with service-related disabilities who have been unemployed for six months or longer in the past year.
The bill passed with near-unanimous support, with the exception of Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who said he would opposed the bill because it “privileged” one type of worker over another, according to the Air Force Times.
The bill also contains provisions for training, counseling, and placement of veterans to help chronically unemployed veterans. Along with provisions from Baucus’s original bill, it also included provisions from bills sponsored by Sebate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chair Jeff Miller, R-Fla.
The bill passed by the Senate on Friday was called the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011. Murray said it had been a priority to pass it by Veterans' Day.
“This is a huge victory for our veterans who have returned home only to have to fight to find work to support themselves and their families,” said Murray. “Our veterans have the drive, discipline, and self confidence to succeed in any workplace. But for too long at the end of their career we’ve patted them on the back for their service and pushed them out into the job market alone. This bill takes a huge step forward in rethinking the way we treat our men and women in uniform after they leave the military by helping them to translate the skills they learned in the military into careers and by giving employers even more incentive to hire veterans.”
Baucus worked closely with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to craft the legislation. The IAVA, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other veteran service organizations have expressed their support for the legislation.
Baucus’s original VETs Jobs bill also included provisions to simplify the certification process to make it easier for businesses to get the tax credit. He said he would continue working to cut red tape to make it easier for businesses to get the credit.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who had co-sponsored a similar tax credit bill with Baucus in January, urged the House to pass the legislation as soon as possible.
“These men and women are extremely capable,” Grassley said in a statement. “They have a lot of skills to offer in the workplace. The legislation that Senator Baucus and I put together clears some bureaucratic hurdles and adds a financial incentive to encourage employers to seek out veterans. These steps are a logical follow-up to my effort to increase the IRS’ hiring of veterans. The IRS saw the value of this pool of potential workers and followed through on increased hiring of veterans. Other employers, including small businesses, should have similar opportunities.”
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