The U.S. Senate passed legislation Thursday intended to address the high unemployment rate among returning veterans, despite the opposition of Sen. Jim DeMint.
The South Carolina senator cast the lone vote of opposition to the “Hire Heroes Act.” The measure would offer tax credits for employers who hire veterans and provide job training to help vets return to the work force.
On the floor of the Senate, DeMint said the tax credit would do little to reduce unemployment, saying employers base hiring decisions on long-term plans, not short-term stimulus.
“We have to recognize the fact that businesses are not going to hire until the government gets out of their way and creates a stable environment where businesses can thrive,” he said, “The best way to get out veterans back to work is by doing the things that will help the economy and get all Americans back to work. Sadly this tax credit doesn’t do that.”
The bill would provide companies that hire a veteran who has been looking for work for at least four weeks a tax credit of $2,400.
Businesses that hire a vet who has been looking for a job for at least six months would get a $5,600 tax credit.
DeMint called the act good politics, but not good policy, “By using a politically sensitive group the day before Veterans Day, the Democrats are hoping they can trick Republicans into further complicating the tax code when we should be doing everything possible to simplify it,” he said.
DeMint said creating tax credits to hire certain groups of people has failed in the past, “I am thankful for their sacrifices to protect freedom and equal opportunity in America,” he said. “But we don’t pay them back for their service and sacrifice with false promises of government programs that have proven not to work.”
New York Senator Charles Schumer, a cosponsor of the bill, said the unemployment rate for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan hovers near 15 percent in some counties.
The vote was for an amendment to a larger bill that would end a 3% withholding tax on federal contractors. DeMint voted in favor of the overall bill, which passed 95-0, with one member voting present.