By Daily Press
WASHINGTON — Rep. Paul Cook, R-Apple Valley, announced Monday that the U.S. Senate has passed his bill, HR 244, the Hire Vets Act of 2017.
The bill already passed the House of Representatives in February. Cook had reintroduced this bipartisan bill earlier this year. It was introduced last Congress and passed the House with unanimous support, but was unable to pass the Senate before the end of the year. The bill now heads back to the House for final passage as the Senate made minor technical changes to it.
This legislation would promote private sector recruiting, hiring and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through a voluntary and effective program, according to Cook’s office.
Specifically, it would create an awards program recognizing the meaningful and verifiable efforts undertaken by employers to hire and retain veterans. The program is designed to be self-funded.
“The HIRE Vets Act is an opportunity for Americans to see which companies truly live up to the employment promises they make to veterans,” Cook said. “Veterans who serve this country honorably shouldn’t struggle to find employment, and this bill creates an innovative system to encourage and recognize employers who make veterans a priority in their hiring practices.
“I’m grateful this bipartisan bill has passed so resoundingly in both the House and the Senate. I expect it to quickly receive final approval from the House and look forward to it being signed into law soon.”
Through the U.S. Department of Labor, the HIRE Vets Act would allow businesses to display “HIRE Vets Medallions” on products and marketing materials. These medallions would be awarded as part of a two-tiered system — Gold and Platinum — associated with specific hiring and retention goals each year.
The program also establishes similar tiered awards for small and mid-sized businesses with less than 500 employees. To ensure proper oversight, the Secretary of Labor would be required to provide Congress with annual reports on the success of the program with regard to veteran employment and retention results.
A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired as a colonel after 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. He represents the 8th District, which includes all of the High Desert, in the House of Representatives.