WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans blocked legislation Wednesday that would have established a $1 billion jobs program putting veterans back to work tending to the country's federal lands and bolstering local police and fire departments.
Republicans said the spending authorized in the bill violated limits that Congress agreed to last year. Democrats fell two votes shy of the 60-vote majority needed to waive the objection, forcing the legislation back to committee.
Supporters loosely modeled their proposal after the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps used during the Great Depression to put people to work planting trees, building parks and constructing dams. They said the latest monthly jobs report, showing a nearly 11 percent unemployment rate for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, merited action from Congress.
"(With) a need so great as unemployed veterans, this is not the time to draw a technical line on the budget," said Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, the bill's lead sponsor, who faces a competitive re-election battle.
Republicans said the effort to help veterans was noble, but the bill was flawed nevertheless.
Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said the federal government already has six job-training programs for veterans and there is no way to know how well they are working. He argued that making progress on the country's debt was the best way to help veterans in the long-term. SM Note: Sen Coburn's argument makes little sense when you remember this was to help move them into Law enforcement, fire departments and tending federal land. It was not a "job training program".