By RAJU CHEBIUM
Gannett Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - A measure aimed at helping veterans find work in the civilian world sailed through the Senate this afternoon on a 94-1 vote - with South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint casting the only "nay" vote.
The Senate considered the bill, introduced by Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, on the eve of Veteran's Day and it won rare bipartisan support.
The measure would provide tax credits of $9,600 per firm for companies to hire disabled veterans who've been out of work for at least six months.
It would also allow veterans to count their military experience while applying to be truck drivers, paramedics, mechanics or engineers in the civilian workforce. Older veterans also would receive additional training under the proposal, which is aimed at helping the 240,000 unemployed veterans of the Iran and Afghanistan wars find work.
DeMint argued on the Senate floor there's no evidence that offering tax credits to boost employment actually spurs hiring.
"By using a politically sensitive group the day before Veterans Day, the Democrats are hoping they can trick Republicans into further complicating the tax code when we should be doing everything possible to simplify it," DeMint said. "If we really want to help veterans and all Americans we need to get serious about fixing our economy."
Simplifying the tax code and repealing the Democratic health care reform law are proposals DeMint advocates to jumpstart the economy.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, voted "present." Four senators - Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye, Arizona Republican John McCain, Kentucky Republican Rand Paul and Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions - didn't vote.