Bipartisan legislation to assist veterans re-entering the workforce STEM careers now goes to the President’s desk to be signed into law

WASHINGTON — This week, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced that the House has passed their bipartisan Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act to assist veterans re-entering the workforce by directing the National Science Foundation to encourage veterans to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The bill now goes to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

"Our veterans come from all walks of life to serve our nation – and they bring with them a wealth of experience when they return to civilian life. Now that the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act has passed the House and Senate and is headed to the President’s desk, we are one step closer to providing veterans the benefits of well-paying jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math, and helping employers better meet their hiring needs. By supporting veterans through STEM career training, we not only help them to succeed, but also to strengthen our nation and our economy,” Klobuchar said.

“This important bipartisan bill to ensure our nation’s veterans have the skills and opportunities to succeed in STEM careers is now on its way to the president’s desk,” Rubio said. “The 21st-century workforce will be dominated by STEM roles, and our nation’s veterans are uniquely qualified to fill these jobs. I thank my colleagues in the Senate and House for getting this bipartisan bill across the finish line.”

The Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act would also require the Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish an interagency working group to develop a strategic plan to address the barriers that veterans face when reentering the workforce and in pursuing STEM careers. The bill is supported by The Manufacturing Institute, Samsung, TechNet, Verizon, and the Consumer Technology Association.

Since coming to the Senate, Klobuchar has worked to ensure that veterans and servicemembers who have defended our freedom and security have the resources they need and deserve. She has also been a leader in efforts to develop a strong science and engineering workforce ready for the jobs of tomorrow.

In December 2019, Klobuchar’s bipartisan Burn Pit Accountability Act, introduced with Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), that would require servicemembers to be evaluated for health issues caused by exposure to open burn pits and toxic airborne chemicals during routine health exams was signed into law. Also signed into law, was the Supporting Children of the National Guard and Reserve Act, introduced with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), that would support children in National Guard and Reserve families by requiring states to identify students from military families in school records to ensure that schools and teachers know which students have parents in the military to help accommodate any additional needs, and a provision that would authorize the Department of Defense and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to conduct a study to determine necessary steps to track ballots from servicemembers across the world to ensure that their votes are being counted.

In November 2019, Klobuchar and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter urging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand the list of presumptive medical conditions for veterans exposed to Agent Orange. In 2018, provisions based on Klobuchar and Senator Thom Tillis’ (R-NC) Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act were signed into law as part of the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. The bipartisan legislation created a Center of Excellence in the VA focused on researching the health effects associated with burn pits and treating veterans who become sick after exposure.

In May 2019, Klobuchar and Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced legislation to ensure that servicemembers and veterans exposed to Occupational Environmental Health (OEH) hazards in the line of duty get the necessary medical care and benefits they need. The bipartisan Occupational and Environmental Transparency Health (OATH) Act  would require the Department of Defense to track active duty military personnel and veterans’ exposed to harmful chemicals in a system.

Also last May, Klobuchar-backed legislation to prevent changes in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act from unduly harming Gold Star military families passed the Senate. The Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act will correct a mistake in President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and eliminate the unfair tax hike on survivors benefits for Gold Star military families.

In March 2019, Klobuchar and Tillis reintroduced the Newborn Care Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation that would double the number of days veterans receive care for their newborns from 7 to 14. Klobuchar also worked to pass the landmark Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provided enhanced tuition and housing benefits to service members seeking to continue their education and smoothly transition into the civilian workforce. She also supported the pivotal Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, which not only improved support and training for family caregivers – who often carry the largest burden of nursing our wounded warriors back to health – but also strengthened health programs for women and rural veterans.

Last Congress, two of Klobuchar’s bipartisan bills, the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act and the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, were signed into law by the President. These bills encourage women to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and pursue careers in aerospace through NASA initiatives, and build on existing efforts by the National Science Foundation to increase women’s participation in STEM education and research.

Klobuchar’s provisions to require the Director of the NSF to consider recommendations from organizations representing underrepresented groups for the STEM Education Advisory Panel, and allow for research to better understand factors relevant to the retention of STEM teachers from underrepresented groups, including women and minorities, were signed into law by the president in the 2017 reauthorization of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act. She was also a strong supporter of the America COMPETES Act of 2007 and the reauthorization of the law in 2010. Klobuchar also introduced the Innovate America Act to promote innovation and increase America’s competitiveness in the global economy. Klobuchar is one of the founding co-chairs of the Diversifying Technology Caucus.