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Reps. Aguilar, Cook introduce veterans jobs bill

Staff reporters | Redland Daily Facts

Two Inland Empire Congressmen are working across the aisle, in an attempt to put local veterans back to work.

On Wednesday, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Rancho Cucamonga, and Rep. Paul Cook, R-Yucaipa, introduced an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act. If passed, the amendment would enable the Department of Defense to fund job placement programs for members of the National Guard and Reserve, similar to California’s “Work for Warriors” program. (The act authorizes expenditures, rather than actually appropriating funds.)

“With nearly 4,000 California veterans finding work through the Work for Warriors program, we need to empower other states to follow our lead to help veterans across the nation find full-time work. Colonel Paul Cook and Congressman Mark Takano have done an incredible job advocating for Work for Warriors, and I’m proud to take a lead role in expanding employment opportunities for our service members,” Aguilar is quoted as saying in a press release issued Thursday.

“The Work for Warriors program in California has been hugely successful and cost effective,” Cook is quoted as saying in the press release. “I hope this legislation will replicate the success we’ve had in California. Federal job placement programs often cost 10 times more than what we’re attempting here. I’m optimistic that this nationwide pilot program can be just as effective at helping to put our service members back to work.”

Both Aguilar and Cook are members of the Work for Warriors Caucus and serve on the House Armed Services Committee. Their amendment was unanimously approved by the House Armed Services Committee and added to the National Defense Authorization Act. The act was approved in committee Thursday morning after a nearly 19-hour congressional hearing, according to published media reports.

The bill includes $611.8 billion in spending. It now heads to the full House of Representatives for a vote.