Senate Democrats made another push Thursday to shake a veterans jobs bill loose from procedural hurdles for passage this week.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.) and bill sponsor Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida expressed frustration that the bill is being held up, and suggested lawmakers put politics aside and pass the measure bill that would provide $1 billion to help veterans find jobs.
"For this to be drug out utilizing the delay tactics of the Senate rules is unconscionable and it's all balled up in the presidential election," Nelson told reporters.
The legislation, which would help train veterans and help them transition into police officers, firefighters and EMTs, as well as work in the park system, is mired in a political quagmire by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who wants a vote on his bill to end aid to Pakistan before letting the Senate take a vote.
"Veterans are watching, and they have no stomach for political posturing," Murray said.
The lawmakers stressed that the bill is a collaboration between Democrats and Republicans and includes the bulk of an alternative bill offered by Veterans Committee ranking member Richard Burr (R-N.C.).
"There's no reason Republicans shouldn't join us in passing this bill and quickly," Murray said.
While some lawmakers have questioned whether the bill can move in the House, Murray said she has a good working relationship with Democrats and Republicans and thinks the bill can be passed.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said votes could slip into the weekend if an agreement is not reached on the veterans jobs bill.
The Senate voted overwhelmingly, 84-8, Wednesday night to proceed to bill — proof, Murray and Nelson argue, that the jobs bill has a majority of support in the chamber.
"The votes are a positive sign" Nelson said.
Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), said he was "surprised by the lack of perspective" around the bill, and called it "disheartening" that veterans are being "held hostage by gamesmanship in the Senate."
"I'm hoping to see a sea change today and that the Senate comes together and gets down to work together," he said.
"This is our priority."
- The Hill