As a member of the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus, I am very concerned about the ability of veterans, including those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, to find good jobs during this economic downturn.
As Congress pursues legislation to create job opportunities for our veterans, controversy arose recently regarding a vote related to the Veterans Jobs Corps Act (S. 3457). Some have accused Senate Republicans of voting to kill the bill.
I would like to set the record straight.
While the bill contained some very positive provisions to help veterans, it busted the bipartisan budget limits that President Obama and Congress supported through the Budget Control Act of 2011. Specifically, the legislation spent $700 million more than allowed by the bipartisan Budget Control Act.
In this time of skyrocketing deficits, I voted to uphold our budget limits and keep our promises to the American people on spending. More specifically, I voted to send S. 3457 to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee so we can find $700 million of savings elsewhere in the budget.
This procedural vote did not end Senate consideration of the bill, nor was there a filibuster against it. Rather, this vote was simply about living within our means, and I remain hopeful that we can resolve this issue and pass the Veterans Jobs Corps Act soon.
As the son of a former U.S. Marine and representing a state with one of the largest veteran populations in the country, I recognize that our commitment to veterans is an ongoing obligation and one of the most important responsibilities of the federal government.
That's why I have voted to support bipartisan veterans jobs bills such as the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, which President Obama signed into law in November 2011. I will work tirelessly to help Pennsylvania's veterans get the services and benefits they rightfully deserve and remain committed to advancing responsible policies that address their needs.
I voted yes on a bill introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to place conditions on U.S. foreign aid to Egypt, Libya and Pakistan.
The recent developments in Egypt, Libya and Pakistan are clearly a cause for concern. Although this bill was not perfect, it's important that we send a message to countries receiving U.S. foreign aid that American assistance comes with responsibilities.
I have asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule full Senate confirmation votes for Matthew Brann and Malachy Mannion, judicial nominees for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
In my Sept. 25 letter to Sens. Reid and McConnell, I highlighted the nominees' experience and asked the Senate leaders to work together to schedule confirmation votes for these nominees.
"Both nominees share a commitment to service and possess the requisite judicial acumen and temperament for the bench. The two vacancies in the Middle District of Pennsylvania are of particular concern since the Williamsport courthouse is without a sitting judge and the district has been in a state of judicial emergency since 2009," I wrote.
I recognize the challenge in confirming all of the pending nominees before the year's end, but I hope that we can work together to find a way to ensure that at least Mr. Brann and Judge Mannion receive a confirmation vote in light of the unique circumstances surrounding the Middle District of Pennsylvania."
For the full text of my letter, please click here.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Foundation is seeking nominations for the Citizen Service Before Self Honors award.
This award recognizes citizens who have clearly demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice for others, whether through an act of extraordinary heroism at risk to one's life or through a prolonged series of selfless acts.
Twenty national finalists will be selected by the foundation, and a panel of Medal of Honor recipients will select the three winners.