On Tuesday, Representative Derek Kilmer introduced two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to help servicemembers find jobs and authorize overtime for civilian shipyard workers overseas. The amendments will be considered by the House Rules Committee for inclusion in the NDAA bill set to be debated on the floor this week in the House.
Rep. Kilmer’s amendment on veteran employment – cosponsored by Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – would encourage companies to hire veterans who are leaving the service, recently left, or have been unemployed or underemployed. It would create a pilot program within the Department of Defense that any business, regardless of size, could participate in. Businesses putting veterans on their payroll would see that factored into their bids for government contracts.
“Many veterans who have sacrificed on our behalf find a tough job market when they leave the armed forces,” said Kilmer. “I want to make sure we don’t forget our obligation to servicemembers. That’s why I’m introducing legislation that provides another reason for businesses interested in federal contracts to hire veterans and give them a chance to succeed in the civilian workforce.”
In 2013, the unemployment rate for veterans was 7.3 percent. Washington state’s 6th District is home to more than 25,000 active duty and reserve service members, along with more than 50,000 veterans and their families. Naval Base Kitsap, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and many other important facilities and vessels are located in the 6th District. Many residents (both civilian and servicemembers) also work at nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) – Washington state’s third largest employer.
Rep. Kilmer’s other amendment to the NDAA would authorize overtime payments for shipyard workers who conduct nuclear maintenance on the U.S. aircraft carrier stationed in Japan. Shipyard workers at the Puget Sound Shipyard who volunteer to go overseas will lose the ability to collect overtime from the Navy this September without an extension from Congress.
“Civilian workers at the nation’s shipyards work tirelessly to help keep our naval edge on the seas,” Kilmer continued. “It’s time to ensure that when they go overseas to make needed carrier repairs they get paid the same as they would in the United States. It is not fair for us to ask them to leave their families for four to six months and compensate them less. I hope to see this as part of the National Defense Authorization Act we will discuss on the floor.”
Separately, Representative Kilmer and Representative Cole jointly introduced an amendment to the NDAA to limit the Department’s ability to furlough civilian employees funded through working capital projects when it would not save taxpayers any money.