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Senate Advances Veterans Hiring Measure, 3% Withholding Bill

The sort-of jobs measure announced Friday by Democrats had it all: paeans to veterans, tax breaks for businesses, an elimination of leverage for tax compliance with government contractors. Something for everyone in Washington, in other words. Which is why it advanced in the Senate by a vote of 94-1.

In a 94-1 roll call, senators voted to start debating a measure repealing a requirement that federal, state and many local governments withhold 3 percent of their payments to contractors. That bill has been lobbied by a wide swath of industry groups large and small and has no significant opposition.

By the time the Senate approves the legislation — perhaps later this week — Democrats planned to add language backed by both parties offering tax breaks to companies that hire veterans and providing vets with employment counseling and other job-hunting services.

Monday’s one-sided vote signaled that barring an unexpected twist, the Senate was likely to send the overall measure to the House, which returns from a recess next week.

I suppose there’s a chance that the House won’t pass the 3% withholding bill as long as the veteran’s hiring initiative is attached, but it’s unlikely. The veteran’s hiring measure, which costs a pittance (if it gets 100,000 veterans hired, an ambitious possibility, it would cost $760 million) and is paid for, was one of the few items in the American Jobs Act cited by House Republicans as acceptable.

Added to the 3% withholding measure, designed to help government contractors cheat on their taxes, and you have an $11-$12 billion bill, a little more than 1/50 of the total American jobs act, entirely tax-based and representing zero stimulus, because it’s all paid for in the near term.

At least everyone’s playing nice.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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