Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to block legislation designed to help veterans get jobs serving their communities, arguing that addressing the government's mounting debt was a better way to help the nation's veterans.
While the Senate voted 58 to 40 in favor of the bill, Republicans claimed that the bill violated budget rules and raised a procedural point of order that required 60 votes to waive.
The bill, the Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012, would have established a $1 billion program to help veterans find work as police officers, firefighters, and other jobs preserving and restoring national parks and other federal lands.
Five Republicans, Sens. Scott Brown, R-Mass., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Dean Heller, R-Nev., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, joined with all 53 Democrats in voting to waive the budget rules.
Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., did not vote, while all of the remaining Republicans voted against the bill.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, had harsh words for her Republican colleagues, calling it "shocking and shameful" to kill the bill.
"At a time when one in four young veterans are unemployed, Republicans should have been able, for just this once, to put aside the politics of obstruction and to help these men and women provide for their families," Murray said.
She added, "But this vote is stark reminder that Senator McConnell and Senate Republicans are willing to do absolutely anything to fulfill the pledge he made nearly two years ago to defeat President Obama."
While Murray claimed that the bill was fully paid for, Republicans argued that the cost was only offset using "budget sleight of hand" and claimed that the effectiveness of other job programs for veterans hasn't been proven.
Republicans also suggested that the bill was designed to score political points ahead of the elections, noting that it had little chance of passing the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.
by RTT Staff Writer
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