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House passes bill protecting veteran-owned businesses

March 2, 2020 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A bill introduced by a New Hampshire congresswoman that aims to address abuses in federal programs catering to veteran-owned business has passed the House.

Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster last year introduced the Protecting Business Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2019, which requires businesses participating in the Vets First Program to verify they are doing the required percentage of work. It also directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to refer suspected violators to the Office of the Inspector General for investigation. Kuster says there is a persistent problem of unfair and wrongful “pass-throughs” in the Vets First Program, where businesses do little or no work, or pass the work onto a third party.

This bill, she said, gives the VA the tools it needs to detect these improper “pass-throughs” and enforce existing penalties.

“When a business has the privilege of being awarded a contract through the Vets First Program, they must keep their end of the bargain and perform the work that is required of them,” Kuster said in a statement.