President Obama accused Republican lawmakers Monday of abandoning unemployed veterans and challenged them to approve tax breaks for companies to hire vets.
"Our veterans did their jobs," Mr. Obama said in an event with veterans groups in the White House Rose Garden. "Now it's time for Congress to do theirs."
The Senate is considering legislation this week that would provide businesses with a $2,400 "Returning Heroes" tax credit for hiring an unemployed veteran who has been unemployed for at least a month. Companies that hire veterans with service-related disabilities would receive a $4,800 credit.
Originally part of the 2009 stimulus bill, these credits would be extended for two more years under Mr. Obama's proposal at a cost of another $120 million.
The president noted with sarcasm that GOP lawmakers stood up and applauded in September when he proposed extending the credits to a joint session of Congress.
"When these ideas come up for a vote this week, when the TV cameras aren't necessarily on each of them, I expect both sides of the aisle to stand up for our veterans and vote in the affirmative," Mr. Obama said. "There's no good reason to oppose this bill."
Senate Democrats plan to attach the veterans bill to bipartisan legislation that would repeal a 3 percent withholding provision for government contractors, a measure that passed the House overwhelmingly.
"Members of Congress will get to say whether or not they think it's a good idea to give companies an additional incentive to hire the men and women who have risked their lives for our country," Mr. Obama said. "It's time for them to put country before party."
House Republican leaders have noted that the House approved a bill last month to help veterans find jobs, including a feature to provide 100,000 unemployed vets with up to one year of education and occupational training benefits. They point out that the Democrat-led Senate hasn't approved the legislation.
Mr. Obama said that about 850,000 veterans are unemployed and that Congress is shirking its responsibility to create jobs for them.
"If you can oversee a convoy or millions of dollars of assets in Iraq, you can help a business back home manage their supply chain or balance their books," he said. "Unfortunately, we have not yet seen progress in Congress. Senate Republicans have chosen to block these bills and these proposals."
The event at the White House was one in a series in which Mr. Obama has tried to prod Congress to approve portions of his $447 billion jobs bill, introduced in September. Increasingly, as Republicans oppose the individual portions in unison, Mr. Obama is highlighting the litany of failed votes as evidence that GOP lawmakers don't care about putting America back to work.
"They've had three chances to do the right thing; three times they've said no," Mr. Obama said.
Republican leaders are accusing the president of failing to work with them on various other job-creation measures and say the president has moved into campaign mode.
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