Representative Darren Soto (D-FL) has introduced the Don Young Veterans Advancing Conservation Act, a bipartisan bill that intends to administer “employment of veterans in the marine conservation field.”
This legislation would require the Secretary of Commerce to create a grant program in order to facilitate the training and eventual hiring of veterans in the field.
“So many veterans in our community are looking to continue their service beyond the military. Our bill encourages the Department of Commerce to create opportunities for veterans to reinvest their training and potential through conservation efforts,” said Congressman Soto.
He would go on to mention, “I’m proud to be leading this effort in the House in honor of the late Don Young. Congressman Young was a champion for veterans in Alaska and the nation. He was also a dear friend that I had the privilege of serving with for nearly three terms on the Natural Resources Committee, and I was his co-lead sponsor on the legislation previously. It is now up to us to continue his efforts to help veterans when they come home.”
Moreover, the bill also calls on the Department of Commerce to establish the “Veterans Advancing Conservation Grant Program” which would award nonprofit organizations with grants should they “train or employ veterans to conduct underwater marine and coastal conservation activities.” This includes coral restoration, marine debris removal, hurricane recovery, and more.
The Don Young Veterans Advancing Conservation Act is co-sponsored by Reps. Mary Sattler Peltola (D-AK), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Jenniffer González Colón (R-PR), Garret Graves (R-LA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL).
Last month Rep. Soto came together with US Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) to introduce the Protect Patriot Spouses Act, a bill designed to stop deportations of those who are married military service members. However, Republicans are seemingly not buying the centrist persona Rep. Soto seems to have adopted.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has now made the Democrat lawmaker the target of their 2024 sights after a number of votes in the US House. The congressman was reported to have voted against funding veterans’ health care and veterans’ benefits — 13 days after he voted to block pay raises for active duty military.
“Soto has betrayed veterans and active duty troops. Soto votes the extreme Democrat party line even when that means targeting the health care and benefits veterans earned serving our country in uniform — or blocking pay raises for active duty troops,” stated NRCC Spokeswoman Delanie Bomar in regard to Rep. Soto.
Republicans believe that Soto’s seat could be up for grabs as he only won by less than 15,000 votes in District 9 in 2022.