Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., is in the process of reintroducing legislation H.R. 1392, Fairness to Veterans Act, that he initially sponsored and introduced in April 2011. The bill gives veterans the same contracting preferences as every other diverse group in federal contracting. Fitzpatrick explained the bill to those attending The American Legion's Small Business Workshop Feb. 27, held during the 53rd annual Washington Conference.
"Every veteran should have someone to lean on in times of need, and every veteran should have a roof over his or her head, and every veteran out there who is looking for work should be able to find it," " Fitzpatrick said. "And Congress has a duty to make sure that the veteran has ample opportunity to compete on a level playing field and on a fair playing field. This fairness is how the Fairness to Veterans Act bill came about.
"The bill gives a contracting preference and priority first to a veteran small business, and it ensures that contracts be awarded only to qualified veteran small businesses who have the necessary skills and commercial licenses to perform the work that the government needs."
Fitzpatrick has been working closely with The American Legion's Small Business Task Force to ensure the bill is "an innovative, administratively convenient contracting tool so that doing business with veterans is the cheapest, easiest and fastest way to do business for the federal government."
The feedback that Fitzpatrick has received from the Legion on the bill has "frankly blew us away," Fitzpatrick said. "We underestimated how powerful the concept could be. This idea of giving veterans equal contracting preferences could have a massive impact in fueling veteran's entrepreneurship and lowering the veteran's unemployment rate. In turn, this could have a positive impact of lowering veteran homelessness, substance abuse and suicide. So it's much more than just a veteran jobs bill. This is a bill that I believe will empower veterans and strengthen the veteran community."
As Fitzpatrick prepares to reintroduce the legislation to the 113th Congress, he feels confident the bill will pass.
"We have our mission and the next steps are clear – we will accept nothing short of success for this proposal and for this legislation," he said. "We have begun developing a detailed and well-thought-out strategy to win support from the administration, from congressional committees and members of Congress."