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House passes veterans jobs bill; legislation heads to Obama

President Obama will get a chance to sign into law a portion of his $447 billion jobs plan after the House agreed Wednesday to extend tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed veterans and to repeal a tax provision seen as a potential burden to government contractors.

This is the first element of Obama’s jobs package to get Congressional approval. The measure, approved last week by the Senate, passed 422 to 0. It heads to Obama, who Wednesday said he would sign the bill. Both parties cheered the vote as a rare example of legislative cooperation. But the bipartisan spirit was limited.

Democrats said Republicans should follow the vote by accepting other, more significant pieces of Obama’s package, including new infrastructure spending, an extension of benefits for the unemployed and a payroll tax holiday for workers. Republicans countered that Democrats, who control the Senate, should take up a series of measures that have been approved by the House to reduce regulations and repeal the federal health-care law.

The bipartisan moment was also overshadowed by a continued impasse on the deficit-reduction supercommittee, whose members are stuck in the ideological divide between tax hikes and entitlement cuts. A supercommittee failure could make more difficult the adoption of other parts of Obama’s jobs package that have bipartisan backing.

The bill approved Wednesday includes a package of benefits to help military service members transition more easily to the civilian workforce and tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed veterans. And it repeals a rule slated to go into effect in 2013 that would have required government agencies to withhold 3 percent of payments to private vendors.

Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for the Washington Post.

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