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Walker Supports Job Protections for Veterans and North Carolinians with Disabilities

December 17, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) released the following statement after the House passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Contracting Preference Consistency Act:

“We are thankful for the passage of the Department of Veterans Affairs Contracting Preference Consistency Act. The bi-partisan legislation keeps North Carolinians employed, restores VA contracts for IFB Solutions and National Industries for the Blind and protects jobs for people who are blind and veterans employed by AbilityOne agencies. This summer, we saw firsthand at Industries of the Blind Greensboro just how valuable these partnerships are. We are grateful that they will continue.”

“With strong advocacy from nonprofits like IFB, organizations like the Blind Veterans Association and the National Federation for the Blind, and legislative leaders such as U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx and U.S. Representative Mark Walker, I’m very hopeful that the thousands of people like me and Scott Smith who are blind or have other significant disabilities will soon have the employment opportunities Congress intended when it created the AbilityOne program in 1938,” IFB Executive Vice President of Strategy and Programs Dan Kelly said.

This legislation grandfathers in VA contracts that predate the Veterans Benefits Act of 2006 to restore eligibility for nonprofits who create jobs for veterans and people who are disabled.

According to the Republican Study Committee, under the law enacted in 2006, the VA gives contracting preference through its Veterans First program to veteran-owned small businesses, including veterans with disabilities, when it awards contracts for goods and services. The AbilityOne program requires federal agencies to give contracting preference for the provision of certain goods and services to nonprofits employing blind and disabled individuals. The requirements of these contract preferences conflict. This bill would rectify the conflict by requiring the VA to give preference to the AbilityOne program in instances where it is procuring items that were covered by the AbilityOne program prior to the enactment of the 2006 veteran preference law.

You can read the full text of the legislation here

Earlier this year, Walker was named an AbilityOne Champion, which is an elected federal policymaker who has demonstrated support for the AbilityOne Program and for related community-based nonprofit agencies in his or her district or state through congressional actions while supporting the enhancement of opportunities for economic and personal independence of persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities.