CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, May 31, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 802, a bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a VetStar Award Program, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for passage.
H.R. 802 was introduced by Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) on February 18, 2011, and was referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The Committee held a markup of the bill on May 12, 2011, and ordered it to be reported, as amended, by voice vote.
H.R. 802 would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a non-monetary award program known as the “VetStar Award Program” to annually recognize businesses for their contributions to veterans’ employment. The bill would require that the Secretary of the VA establish a process for the administration of the award program, including criteria for categories and sectors of businesses eligible for recognition, and objective measures to be used in selecting businesses to receive the award.
According to Committee Report 112-080, Veterans have experienced higher than normal rates of unemployment during the current economic recession as shown by data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
During the 111th Congress, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity received testimony from veteran stakeholders concerning the rates of unemployment among some veterans when compared to their civilian counterparts, and the challenges faced by the small business community. This sentiment was shared by veteran stakeholders at the March 3, 2011 subcommittee hearing on Veterans' Employment and Training Service's Budget and State Grant Program.
In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the “unemployment rate for veterans who served in the military since September 2001—a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans—was 10.3 percent in 2009.” Gulf War-era II veterans have experienced unemployment rates above their non-veteran counterparts for several years.
H.R. 802 would seek to highlight hiring efforts by employers by creating an incentive for businesses to employ veterans by directing the VA to develop a low-cost, annual awards program that recognize businesses who excel at hiring veterans. The award can be displayed by business owners to emphasize their business’ commitment to the veteran community. The program requirements and selection process would be determined and run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
According to CBO, and based on information from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), establishing and implementing such an award program would impose few workload and budgetary requirements on VA. CBO expects that the award program would require VA staff to develop the award criteria, advertise the program, review nominations, and select winners. Award recipients would be recognized with awards such as trophies and plaques. Assuming the availability of the necessary funds, CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost less than $500,000 over the 2012-2016 period for additional personnel costs and to purchase awards and administrative supplies.
Enacting H.R. 802 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.