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The Veterans Job Corps Act died in the Senate Wednesday on a procedural vote when 40 senators balked at the $1 billion price tag for a measure that would have provided employment for veterans in conservation work, in Veterans Affairs Department cemeteries, and helped in police and fire departments.
Supporters needed 60 votes and got only 58 to overcome an objection by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., that the $1 billion in costs, although paid for through budgetary gimmicks, would have pushed VA over the spending limits set by last year's Budget Control Act.
The vote brought an early end to a measure that was already likely to fail. While the bill was a top priority of President Obama and many veterans' organizations, the House of Representatives had no plans to take it up for consideration this year.
Sessions said he is as concerned as anyone about unemployed veterans, but doesn't see the need to add $1 billion in spending to the $109 billion VA budget for 2013. New programs, if required, could be funded by cutting something else, he said.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., chief sponsor of the bill, said veterans won't see the issue the same way. "Veterans don't care to hear about why we cannot support them," he said. "Veterans don't care about a budget point of order."