Last Wednesday, the broken rules and procedural obstructionism that have plagued the U.S. Senate for years claimed their latest victim: The Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012.
The bill would have increased skills training for military veterans – including those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan – and helped returning servicemembers find employment as police, firefighters and first responders. Studies predicted that bill would have paid for itself within ten years.
Unfortunately, the bill fell prey to a procedural rule that required 60 votes for it to advance. Lawrence Downs of The New York Times reports:
Republicans on Wednesday afternoon blocked a vote on the Veterans Job Corps Bill after Jeff Sessions of Alabama raised a point of order — he said the bill violated a cap on spending agreed to by Congress last year. The bill’s sponsor, Patty Murray of Washington, said that shouldn’t matter, since the bill’s cost was fully offset by new revenues. She said Mr. Sessions and his party colleagues had been furiously generating excuses to oppose the bill, and were now exploiting a technicality to deny thousands of veterans a shot at getting hired as police officers, firefighters and parks workers, among other things.
This far from the first time Republicans in the Senate have played politics with common sense legislation. In July, they blocked the DISCLOSE Act – which would have increased transparency over independent groups’ campaign spending. Shortly thereafter, they blocked the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would have provided tax incentives for companies that bring jobs back to the U.S. from overseas.
In this case, despite the fact that a majority of Senators – 58 in all including five Republicans – voted to support our veterans, the bill stalled. Clearly, it’s time to Fix the Senate Now.