Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
It’s always troubling to read about the high unemployment rate among American vets, as A.M. Costa Rica reported Friday. But what’s more troubling is that the Republican Party has shot down two bills in the last two years that would have created jobs for vets and improved their benefits.
In 2012, they killed The Veterans Job Corp Bill. The vote was 56 in favor of the bill to 41 opposed. (60 votes were needed to get the bill out of committee.) The corps, which would have been similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps created during the Great Depression, would have put veterans to work on “preserving and restoring federal, state and local lands in and around their communities.”
Republicans objected to the projected price tag, (which would have been equal to what we’ve been spending on funding the war in Afghanistan for all of three and a half days), as well as the Obama administration’s plan to pay for it in part by imposing penalties on Medicare providers and suppliers who are delinquent on taxes, and by collecting back taxes from others.
And their latest decision to block S. 1982, the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014 was based largely on the refusal of Democrats to include Iran sanctions in the bill. (Everyone outside of the GOP agreed that to impose new sanctions on Iran during the negotiations over their nuclear program would be counter productive in the extreme). The vote? 56 in favor to 41 opposed.
The cost of S. 1982 was considerably larger than the job corps bill, but would have done more than create jobs. It was intended to increase many different kinds of benefits for vets including those covering health care, mental health upgrades and education. It would have cost about the same as two and a half months of the Afghan conflict. But Iran sanctions were the main stumbling block.
American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said: “Today, the Senate had a chance to put aside partisan politics and do what was right for the men and women who have sacrificed so much while wearing our nation’s uniform. Instead, we saw the same political gamesmanship that led our federal government to a shutdown last fall. There was a right way to vote and a wrong way to vote today, and 41 senators chose the wrong way. That’s inexcusable.” (All 41 who voted against the bill were Republicans.)