News Releases

Senator Murray Discusses Veterans Jobs Corps Bill

Sep 12 2012

Bill would help train and hire veterans as police officers, firefighters, and at our national and state parks

Watch video of Senator Murray’s speech.

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Wednesday, September 12th, Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, spoke on the Senate floor on the Veterans Jobs Corps legislation currently being considered by the Senate. The Veterans Jobs Corps bill will increase training and hiring opportunities for all veterans including helping to hire police officers, firefighters and other first responders. It will also help train and hire veterans to help restore and protect our national, state, and tribal forests, our parks, our coastal areas, wildlife refuges, and VA cemeteries. The Veterans Jobs Corps bill contains ideas from both sides of the aisle and is fully paid for with bipartisan spending offsets.

“This is a bill that will increase training and hiring opportunities for all veterans using proven job training programs from across the country,” Senator Murray said. “It is a bill that is paid for with offsets that both Republicans and Democrats have supported. And it is a bill unquestionably represents ideas from both sides of the aisle - including from the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. There is no reason now that Republicans should not join us in passing this bill, and passing it quickly.”

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech:

“I’ve been working on veterans issues in the Senate for nearly two decades. And in all that time, under Democratic and Republican controlled Senates, under Administrations of both parties, and in times of war and peace, if there was one issue that I’ve seen that rises above the day-to-day bomb throwing that often characterizes debate here - it’s been the care and benefits for our veterans.”

“This is a bill that includes both Republican and Democratic ideas. This is a bill that will increase training and hiring opportunities for all veterans using proven job training programs from across the country.”

“It is a bill that is paid for with offsets that both Republicans and Democrats have supported. And it is a bill unquestionably represents ideas from both sides of the aisle - including from the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. There is no reason now that Republicans should not join us in passing this bill, and passing it quickly.”

“I am urging Republicans to join us in rising above politics – like we have done time and again for our veterans – to ignore the calendar – and the never-ending chatter about who’s up and who’s down. Let’s send a message to our veterans this week that they come first. And that we intend to keep up our commitment to their service.”

The full text of Senator Murray’s speech:

“Madam President, I want to first join with the many Senators today who have strongly condemned the violent attacks against the men and women serving bravely in our diplomatic corps.

“The senseless murders in Libya are a reminder of the dangers these public servants take on everyday - and the courage they show in furthering our diplomatic goals all across the globe.

“We are all grateful to them.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the other victims of this attack.

“And I stand, as we all do, with the President in supporting efforts to secure those who continue to serve us abroad.

“Madam President, I’ve come to the floor today to respond to statements made here earlier that are completely inaccurate about the bill that we are currently considering and that run counter to this body’s long-held tradition of acting in a bipartisan way for our veterans.

“In particular, I’d like to respond to the baseless and frankly, offensive charges that the Senator from Oklahoma made insinuating that supporters of this bill don’t ‘really care about veterans’ and that this bill ‘isn’t about veterans.’

“Madam President, I’ve been working on veterans issues in the Senate for nearly two decades.

“And in all that time: under Democratic and Republican controlled Senates, under Administrations of both parties, and in times of war and peace,

“If there was one issue that I’ve seen that rises above the day-to-day bomb throwing that often characterizes debate here - it’s been the care and benefits for our veterans.

“We can certainly disagree about policy -- of course.

“We can fight with all our hearts for what we think is right.

“But never, never have I seen accusations that one party or one group wasn’t fighting for what they believed to be right for our veterans - the way the Senator from Oklahoma did a short while ago.

“In fact, the accusations leveled by the Senator from Oklahoma was the single biggest departure from the spirit of cooperation around veterans issues I’ve seen in my time in the Senate.

“So I’d like to set the record straight about the steps this bill takes to put veterans back to work.

“And in doing so, I’m not going to question the motives or the degree to which those who may oppose this legislation care for our veterans

“Because as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – I see Republican’s commitment every day.

“I won’t level allegations designed to make our veterans political pawns.

“And I certainly won’t mislead anyone about what we have set out to do.

“I won’t, because honestly, I believe that our veterans deserve far better.

“What they and the American people deserve is the truth.

“And the truth is that caring for our veterans - and helping to provide them with the training they need to find jobs when they return home - is a cost of the wars we have fought for the last decade.

“The truth is that less than 1% of U.S. citizens serve and sacrifice for the well being of the other 99%.

“And the truth is that what the Senator from Oklahoma calls a charade is actually an effort to give those veterans as many avenues as possible to find work.

“It’s an effort to give them the economic security and self-esteem that only a job can provide and that is so essential to their return home.

“Now I understand that it has taken some in the Senate a long time to come to grips with the fact that our fiscal commitment to those who wear the uniform doesn’t end the day that they are discharged. 

“But the truth is, it’s not enough to give our veterans a pat on the back for their military service, we have to also give them a helping hand into the job market.

“And as the jobs report released last month reminded us, we have over 720,000 unemployed veterans across the nation – including over 225,000 veterans who have served since September 11th.

“And despite what the Senator from Oklahoma may have said, this bill makes resources available to all of them.

“In fact that is exactly why we brought this bill forward.

“What we need right now is an ‘all hands on deck, all of the above’ strategy.

“That’s why this is a bill that includes both Republican and Democratic ideas.

“This is a bill that will increase training and hiring opportunities for all veterans using proven job training programs from across the country.

“For instance, it increases grants under the COPS and SAFER programs that we have seen work to train and hire qualified veterans as police officers, firefighters and other first responders.

“All at a time when 85 percent of law enforcement agencies were forced to reduce their budget in the past year.

“And at a time when we face a $10 billion maintenance backlog for our public lands - this bill will also help train and hire veterans to: restore and protect our national, state, and tribal forests, our parks, and other public lands.

“And because training and hiring our veterans has never been, and should never be, an effort that divides us – we also included a host of Republicans ideas in this bill.

“We included a bill from Senator Toomey that gives veterans increased access to computers and internet tools to find jobs in in-demand areas in their community. 

“We included a bill sponsored by Senator Boozman that will increase transition assistance programs for eligible veterans and their spouses.

“And we included a very important provision from Senators on both sides of the aisle that will help force states to consider the military experience of our veterans when they issue licenses and certifications.

“Now we figured that this comprehensive, bipartisan approach would certainly be enough to gain Republican support – even if it did come as we were inching closer to an election.

“But over the course of the last 48 hours or so we’ve heard that Republicans – including Senator Burr, the Ranking member on my Committee – had an alternative version of the bill that Republicans wanted to push instead.

“His bill includes a system to have states certify military experience for job skills and helps veterans get hired into the federal workforce, among a number of other provisions.

“Now it appeared for a moment like that this late alternative could derail what I believe can be and should be a bipartisan effort.

“But again, we are committed to making this a bipartisan effort.

“So instead of showing our veterans more gridlock and partisanship here is what we’ve done.

“Because as I said before this must be an “all of the above approach,” we have added every one of the provisions in Senator Burr’s alternative to our bill and now have an even more bipartisan, more inclusive bill: on the floor, right now, awaiting action.

“It is a bill that is paid for with offsets that both Republicans and Democrats have supported.

“And it is a bill unquestionably represents ideas from both sides of the aisle - including from the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

“There is no reason now that Republicans should not join us in passing this bill, and passing it quickly.

“Because Madam President, this doesn’t have to be an either, or situation.

“Neither party has the magic bullet to this problem, so we have to open as many proven opportunities to employment as we can.

“Veterans are watching and waiting.

“They are tired of excuses, and they certainly have no stomach for the kind of political posturing we saw earlier today that comes only at their expense.

“Now, I know that some Republicans have pointed to the calendar as the reason for their opposition to this bill.

“And honestly, I wish it wasn’t September and we didn’t have to deal with silly season here in Washington D.C.

“But you know who could care less about what month it is or how many days out from an election we are: the nearly one million unemployed veterans looking for work.

“Their concerns are: What jobs are available in my community? What training programs can I take advantage of? What’s being done to honor my two or three tours oversees?

“This is a bill that offers them new resources to answer those questions.

“This is a bill that will help them serve their communities, help them provide for their families.

“I truly hope that with the change we have to add Senator Burr’s alternative to the overall bill, we have overcome the last hurdle before passage.

“And I am urging Republicans to join us in rising above politics – like we have done time and again for our veterans – to ignore the calendar – and the never-ending chatter about who’s up and who’s down.

“Let’s send a message to our veterans this week that they come first.

“And that we intend to keep up our commitment to their service.

“Thank you.”