A Senator who helped block a vote last week on the Veterans Jobs Corps bill says he opposed the law in part because it would have duplicated existing federal jobs programs and given post-9/11 vets an unfair advantage over other veterans in targeted fields.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said there are six veterans’ jobs training programs under the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor that should be consolidated under the VA. Coburn said the programs are not working, citing the Government Accountability Office’s conclusion that overlaps in various programs result in inefficiencies.
“Instead of creating a new program we owe it to our veterans and taxpayers to understand why what we are already doing isn’t producing results,” Coburn said.
Under an amendment to the bill offered by Coburn, the six programs – the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program, the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project, the Local Veterans Employment Representative Program, the Transition Assistance Program, the Veterans Workforce Investment Program and the Vocational Rehabilitation for Disabled Veterans Program – would have been placed under the VA and reviewed to ensure they’re working.
However, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the majority leader, would not allow amendments, Coburn said.
“That is why I described the bill as a political exercise instead one that is designed to honor our veterans and strengthen our nation,” he said in his email to Military.com.
Coburn also said the $1 billion jobs bill would have created a “distinct preference for veterans of the current war in Afghanistan and the most recent war in Iraq by stating that these jobs are primarily for veterans who have served since September 11, 2001.”
“That isn’t fair to veterans from previous conflicts,” he said.
Tom Tarantino, the chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which backed the bill, doubted its passage would have created a problem among veterans.
The types of employment spelled out in the legislation are police, firefighters and conservation jobs in the country’s state and national parks, he said.
“The type of jobs they’re going for are by definition for younger veterans,” he said.
Critics of the jobs bill also opposed it on the grounds it would have added $1 billion to the deficit because it required new funding that would have meant borrowing.
Advocates said the bill was funded. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Sept. 20 the money came from offsets that Republicans and Democrats previously supported. These reportedly included money from tax-delinquent Medicare providers.