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Opening Statement of Hon. John Boozman, Ranking Republican Member, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity

Good afternoon.

Before we begin Madame Chairwoman, I would like to thank you for the way you and I have worked together for the past six years.

As you know, I will not be returning to the House next year and I want you to know how much I value the working relationship that your and I have had.  I wish that all of our committee assignments were this collegial and productive. 

But more than our professional relationship as Chair and Ranking, the most important result is that veterans have benefitted in many ways from the work of the Economic Opportunity Subcommittee.  I am proud of what we have done together and I hope this Subcommittee will continue its success in the 112th Congress.

Madame Chairwoman, the law regarding the obligations of federal contractors to take affirmative action to hire veterans is clear.  What appears less clear is the government’s commitment to enforcing the law.

Staff tells me that the VETS 100 report is widely known to be merely a paperwork exercise that is largely ignored once it reaches Washington.  I in a way, I can understand why if the data supplied by our witnesses is even close to accurate.  With small staffs to enforce the law, there is clearly no practical way to police 200,000 contractors, many with multiple contracts and subdivisions.  I would also offer that with the consolidation of our industrial base as well as companies providing services, it is unlikely that an agency will debar a company that is the sole provider of a critical item or service.  So I hope we can eventually come up with something more effective to ensure government contractors meet the law’s requirements to hire veterans.