January 28,2015

Press Contact:

Charles Pope (Wyden): 202-224-4515

Finance Committee Democrats Outline Measures To Spur Job Growth for Veterans

Senators Urge Republicans to Join Them In Moving The Bipartisan Ideas

WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Democrats today outlined a collection of proven, bipartisan proposals that would spur hiring of veterans and provide a boost for the nation’s economy.                    

The announcement came as the Finance Committee considered “The Hire More Heroes Act of 2015.” The bill is considered a starting point from which additional – and more proven – measures can be added to help the nation’s veterans find jobs since the effectiveness of The Hire More Heroes Act is unclear.   

“What has motivated Members to come together this morning, is simple:  it’s our nation’s veterans,” Finance Committee Ranking Democrat Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said.

“But the Finance Committee could do more to help our veterans and we have some better and bipartisan ways for doing that. The most direct way is renewing the EXPIRE Act which contained a number of crucial programs that benefit our veterans,” Wyden said.

“If we are serious about helping our veterans get good work – and a fair wage – then we have plenty of serious options,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said. “Unfortunately, Hire More Heroes is not one of those options.”

Senators Wyden, Stabenow and other Finance Committee Democrats urged immediate action on specific tax incentives and other mechanisms that have provided strong incentives and measurable results. Many of the provisions were included in the EXPIRE Act which received unanimous support from the Finance Committee last year.

Among the provisions highlighted by the senators:

  • The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which provides a wage tax credit for businesses willing to hire veterans, including those who are unemployed, disabled, or are low income and receive federal assistance.
  • A 20% wage credit for employers who continue to pay military reservists while they are on active duty. This provision also would have provided an expanded 100% match for the first $20,000 in differential pay.
  • A provision that makes it easier for active military to benefit from the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. 

Joining Wyden and Stabenow in offering the proposals and in calling for a stronger effort to boost veteran employment, were Senators Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Tom Carper, D-Del., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Bob Casey, D-Pa.

“We must do more to ensure true employment opportunities for our veterans,” Sen. Brown said. “The status quo is not enough – the American middle class and our veterans deserve more.”

Senators Cardin and Cantwell agreed that bringing back the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for veterans would be a powerful catalyst in helping veterans get jobs.

“America’s veterans have our backing on the battlefield but they also need our support on the home front,” Senator Cardin said. “WOTC has helped over 12 million people move from public assistance to the workforce since 1996.  Among the millions who have benefited from WOTC are our veterans.”

“We in the Pacific Northwest have an opportunity, the need for 50,000 new aerospace workers over the next several years, and so connecting veterans with the skills and the training to fill those jobs would be incredibly important,” Senator Cantwell said.

Sen. Carper, said: “Employers recognize what veterans bring to the table—hard work, integrity, and teamwork. Those qualities speak for themselves, but in a competitive workforce, Congress must do its part to provide incentives that ensure veteran hiring remains a top priority in the private sector.”

The Democratic senators noted that the need for enacting the proposals into law as soon as possible is both real and common sense now that The Hire More Heroes Act was approved by the Finance Committee on a 26-0 vote.

“There’s far more we could be doing to immediately spur veterans’ job growth.  It’s my hope that as this legislation moves forward we are able to fulfill our shared goal of getting as many veterans back to work as possible,” Sen. Menendez said.

The unemployment rate for veterans is 7.2 percent, which lags behind the national average and illustrates why more work must be done.

“All of these are the actions would help veterans in real and tangible ways,” Wyden said, “and it’s my hope that Republicans will join us in providing what our veterans need and deserve so they can find jobs and economic opportunity.”