It may not seem like much, but when you’re in the minority party, I suppose even the tiniest legislative victory is something to celebrate in a press release. Which may explain why on Jan. 12, the office of Representative Tulsi Gabbard, D–Hawaii, sent out a news release titled “Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Passes Bill to Support Hiring More Heroes.”
Of course that’s an overstatement–it takes more than a single representative to pass anything in the House–but it’s clear that Gabbard played an important role the passage of HR 22, the so-called “Hire More Heroes Act,” which passed 412-0 on Jan. 6, making it the first bill passed by the House in the 114th Congress.
Remember that Gabbard–who is also a military police captain in the Hawaii National Guard–didn’t introduce the bill–she just co-sponsored it (though to be fair, she was the bill’s first co-sponsor). Congressman Rodney Davis, R–Illinois, introduced the bill, and while it’s not exactly a shining example of bi-partisanship (just five of the bill’s 118 co-sponsors are Democrats), a win’s a win, right?
“As we begin the 114th Congress, passage of this bipartisan Hire More Heroes Act, which focuses on empowering and employing our veterans, is the perfect tone to bring in the New Year,” said Gabbard in the Jan. 12 news release. “This legislation will help decrease the number of unemployed veterans and support our small-business owners as they work hard to grow our economy. I was honored to immediately offer my support and co-sponsor the bill because of the important constituency that it serves—those who willingly serve and sacrifice for our nation.”
The bill “incentivizes” (Gabbard’s word) the hiring of veterans by allowing employers the option of not counting employees who already have Veterans Administration or TRICARE health coverage when calculating full-time employees as part of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. According to Gabbard, this will make it more attractive for employers to hire veterans.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the “Hire More Heroes Act” has appeared. Gabbard was one of four Democrats to co-sponsor HR 3474, which was also titled the “Hire More Heroes Act” (33 Republicans ended up co-sponsoring that bill, which Davis also introduced). That bill passed the House of Representatives 406-1 in March 2014, but then died in the Senate, which was then controlled by Democrats.
Click here to watch a YouTube video of Gabbard’s Jan. 6, 2015 floor speech on HR 22.
2013 Photo of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: TSgt Michael R. Holzworth/Wikimedia Commons