Last week, while announcing the President’s decision to take a series of executive actions, the Administration unveiled their latest slogan, “We Can’t Wait.” I agree that we owe it to the millions of unemployed Americans to pass legislation that will help our economy flourish and put them back to work, but using "Executive Powers” without legislative transparency to point the finger at Republicans for a supposed unwillingness to pass legislation to help jump-start our economy is unproductive and insincere. The fact of the matter is that while the Administration was busy trying to come up with its next catch phrase, the House of Representatives passed two more job creating measures. In total, the House of Representatives has passed more than twenty jobs bills that would help put Americans back to work, yet only five of these have been passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President. Currently, eighteen jobs bills are stuck in the Senate awaiting further action (http://majorityleader.gov/JobsTracker). I guess we shouldn’t be surprised about the lack of activity on the other side of the Capitol, given that it has been over 900 days since the Senate last passed a budget.
One of the Executive Orders issued by the President this week was a push to get unemployed veterans back to work. The President “challenged” Community Health Centers to hire 8,000 veterans. I agree that military members with medical training should have an easier time finding employment, which is why I included provisions that would make it easier for them to get the credentials they need to obtain employment in my Veteran’s Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act (http://veterans.house.gov/jobs). And the VOW Act doesn’t stop there. The VOW Act would help train 100,000 unemployed veterans in a full range of job sectors, improve the Transition Assistance Program, and strengthen protections that help National Guard and Reserve troops from losing their jobs while they are deployed.
I fully commend the President for focusing on measures to help get one million unemployed veterans to work. This level of veteran unemployment is unacceptable. Members of the House of Representatives from both sides of the aisle understand how vital it is to get unemployed veterans back to work, and that is why the VOW Act passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 418-6. With Veterans Day less than two weeks away, passing the VOW Act in the Senate and sending it to the President’s desk would lay down a significant marker on the road to decreasing veteran unemployment.
I have also introduced a tax incentive to complement the VOW Act, which would not only immediately help veterans, but would also help small businesses grow. The Tax Credit to Hire Veterans Act would provide small businesses with a $25,000 incentive for hiring any unemployed veteran. Additionally, my bill includes provisions that ensure that businesses cannot simply hire a veteran, receive the incentive and then fire the veteran. This substantial tax incentive would allow businesses to use more of their capital to hire unemployed veterans, and provide a double incentive to businesses looking to hire veterans.
Long before the Administration coined its new slogan, the American people have been telling us that we cannot wait to create jobs. House Republicans have understood that we do not have the luxury of standing on the sidelines waiting for the economy to right itself and have taken action. In May, Republicans released the Plan for America’s Job Creators, a comprehensive approach to reducing government barriers to job growth. On numerous occasions, we have answered the call to action by passing jobs legislation, and we continue to do so. On Wednesday, the House passed H.R. 1904, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act. This bill will pave the way for American businesses to create thousands of jobs delivering approximately $220.5 million in wages every year to American workers. More than $700 million in private funds have already been invested in this project, and over 500 Americans work at the site today. Over the life of the project, the economic benefits will exceed $60 billion and lead to another $19 billion in tax revenue for federal, state, county and local governments.
Passage of H.R. 1904 was followed up with the passage of H.R. 674, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the imposition of 3 percent withholding on certain payments made to vendors by government entities. H.R. 674 would repeal an unnecessary and burdensome requirement, set to go into effect in January 2013, which would withhold 3 percent of government payments to businesses that provide goods or services to federal, state, or local governments. This withholding tax would reduce the cash flow of businesses that contract with federal, state and local governments and undermine job creation. I believe that the looming implementation of this requirement is contributing to the severe uncertainty facing employers during these challenging economic times. The withholding requirement would also impose substantial costs on federal, state, and local governments, including costs to acquire new software and pay for additional accounting services. I was glad to see the Administration come out in support of House efforts to repeal this withholding tax. H.R. 674 received broad bipartisan support in the House, and there is no reason to add it to the list of bills that are stalled in the Senate.
The President and I may have different ideological viewpoints on how best to help the country, but I agree with him that unemployed Americans can’t continue to wait. The House, Senate, and the Administration must work together to support our nation’s job creators. The President does not need to circumvent the Congress through Executive Orders. House-passed jobs bills that are currently stalled in the Senate, including the VOW Act, would help to create far more jobs than any of the President’s Executive Orders. The House is doing its part, but only until the Senate acts, starts listening to the American people and stops trying to find new ways to delay legislation, will we create the right environment for businesses to thrive and expand their workforce. House Republicans have shown time and again that we are committed to passing legislation to improve our economy as the elected voice of the People. Now, we need the Senate and the Administration to do the same.
We cannot afford to wait any longer.