Obama signs bipartisan bill to help jobless vets, repeals contractor tax withholding

Monday - 11/21/2011, 1:16pm EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama has signed legislation giving tax breaks to companies that hire unemployed veterans, telling businesses "if you are hiring, hire a veteran."

Obama says Monday that the legislation will help about 850,000 veterans who are currently unemployed and tens of thousands who will be returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming months.

The bill passed Congress last week with rare bipartisan support.

The brief moment of unity was overshadowed by the apparent failure of lawmakers from both parties on a special panel to reach an agreement on $1.2 trillion in savings ahead of a Wednesday deadline.

The legislation signed by Obama creates tax breaks for companies that hire jobless veterans and helps provide vets with job training and counseling. It also repeals a 2006 law that would require the federal, state and local governments to withhold 3 percent of their payments to contractors.

The veterans' legislation is the first proposal included in Obama's $447 billion bill to win congressional approval.

The legislation also repeals a 2006 law that would require the federal, state and local governments to withhold 3 percent of their payments to contractors.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)