Bustos, Fitzpatrick bipartisan effort aims to put vets back to work

Online Staff Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Cheri Busto, D-Ill., a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., joined together Aug. 2 to introduce a new bipartisan bill that would help put veterans back to work rebuilding crumbling roads, bridges, tunnels and rail lines.

The Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act (H.R. 2906) continues Bustos’ fight on behalf of veterans by helping to ensure they play a critical role in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure by providing them with access to existing contracting preferences authorized for transportation projects.

Rebuilding our nation’s transportation infrastructure is one of my top priorities and is essential to growing our economy and creating jobs,” Bustos said. “The brave veterans who served us so honorably deserve our full support, and that starts with making sure they have good-paying jobs here at home. With the unemployment rate for returning veterans remaining far too high, it is common sense that they should have access to the contracting preferences available for transportation projects.

This new bipartisan bill is a win-win. Not only will it help get veterans back to work, but it will also help rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges, tunnels and rails lines,” Bustos added.

Fitzpatrick said: “Our fighting men and women are the most highly skilled workforce in history. We must leverage their unprecedented skills to get our economy moving once again. This is a bipartisan policy which has already enjoyed the bipartisan support of Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate. It is time to make this policy the law.”

American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz said: “The American Legion emphatically supports Congressman Fitzpatrick’s Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act. This legislation would offer some redress by helping to ensure equal opportunity for veterans by expanding their participation in Department of Transportation contracting opportunities. Our gratitude also goes out to Congresswoman Cheri Bustos for agreeing to introduce this important legislation jointly. Veterans have already achieved significant small business success, and many have taken advantage of the Legion’s small business workshops. But barriers remain and not all veterans receive the same opportunities to prosper as other small business owners do.”

Specifically, this bill would apply to the re-authorization of the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act,” known as MAP-21, which provides more than $100 billion of federal funding for highway and transit projects across the country.

More than 250,000 service members are transitioning each year from the military to civilian life. One in four veterans say they want to start a business, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), while 2.4 million veterans own a business, according to the most recent Census.

During her short time in office, Bustos has focused on fighting for our nation’s veterans. She has supported legislation that would help jumpstart job creation for veterans, went after predatory lending practices that target veterans, and fought to cut down on the growing VA claims backlog. She also spent a week traveling around the region on a veterans listening tour and continues to meet with veterans from the district who go to Washington, D.C., on Honor Flights.

Bustos and Fitzpatrick are both “No Labels Problem Solvers.” This is a group of 81 House and Senate Democrats and Republicans who meet on a regular basis to build trust across the aisle and to develop solutions for the American people. For more about the No Labels group, visit www.NoLabels.org.

Posted Aug. 2, 2013

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