Peters, Cornyn Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Opportunity for Disabled Veterans in Infrastructure Contracts

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and John Cornyn (R-TX) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to increase the number of infrastructure projects awarded to small businesses owned by veterans with a service-connected disability. The Disabled-Veterans Rebuilding Infrastructure to Vitalize our Economy (DRIVE) Act creates a goal that 5% of the funding allocated in the most recent highway bill be granted to Service-connected Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs). Currently, the highway bill only includes a contracting goal for disadvantaged businesses but omits SDVOSBs, despite the fact that there is a government-wide target for both categories.

“Part of keeping our promise to our nation’s heroes is ensuring they have the support and resources they’ve earned as they transition back to civilian life,” said Senator Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.“I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation, which will ensure that veterans play a larger role in building our nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and tunnels.”

“Ensuring our veterans are able to successfully transition to civilian life is a vitally important mission we all undertake,” Sen. Cornyn said. “This bill increases opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses to put their unique skill sets to use on repairing and rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.”

“PVA's longstanding mission has always been to provide opportunities that advance the independence of our members,” said Heather Ansley, Associate Executive Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America. “This bill will ensure that service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses will not be at a competitive disadvantage in infrastructure contracts. Paralyzed Veterans of America supports this legislation and urges all members of the Senate to support our members and cosponsor this bill.”

“The VFW thanks Senators Peters and Cornyn for their efforts to promote business opportunities for Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses in the infrastructure field. The VFW gladly supports the DRIVE Act, which would provide veterans the opportunity to continue to build up our great nation,” said Carlos Fuentes, National Legislative Service Director for Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“Vietnam Veterans of America strives to support and empower our members, including thousands of hard-working small business owners. The DRIVE Act will help level the playing field so service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses can compete for highway restoration contracts across the country. We appreciate Senators Peters’ and Senator Cornyn’s efforts on this legislation, and hope to see members of both parties come together to support America’s veterans," said John Rowan, President of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

“America’s servicemembers are leaders on the battlefield, in the air and at sea. As veterans, they are leaders in their communities and their work places, but too often veteran-owned businesses are not given the opportunity to compete with larger companies for infrastructure contracts. The American Legion thanks Senator Peters and Senator Cornyn for introducing the DRIVE Act and for recognizing the extraordinary potential of America’s veterans,” said Brett P. Reistad, National Commander, The American Legion.

“Through their service in the military, American veterans have worked around the world to build the physical infrastructure that's necessary for economic development in budding democracies,” said Kristofer Goldsmith, President of High Ground Veterans Advocacy. “Senator Peters' DRIVE Act will help veterans take the skills that they learned in service and use them to benefit America's economy. HGVA is thankful to Senator Peters' for his steadfast leadership in ensuring that Service-connected Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses thrive.”

"In our opinion, the DRIVE Act will more effectively support and boost opportunities for the success of Service-connected Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses," said John P. Yori II, President, United Soldiers and Sailors of America. "Ostensibly,and in turn, the prospect in advancing the DRIVE Act will be to encourage SDVOSB's to augment an additional workforce of veterans transitioning back in civilian life. On behalf of the staff, volunteers and membership of United Soldiers and Sailors of America - USASOA, I want to sincerely thank Senator Gary Peters and Senator John Cornyn for their continued support for our veteran and military communities."

The new SDVOSB contracting target would be in addition to the current 10% goal for transportation contracts awarded to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), which are small businesses owned and controlled by women and other members of socially marginalized groups. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was signed into law in 2015 and allocated over $305 billion through fiscal year 2020 for highway repairs, motor vehicle safety, public transportation upgrades, motor carrier safety, railways, hazardous materials transportation safety, and research, technology, and statistics programs.

There are over 4.5 million veterans with a service-connected disability in America, including over 105,000 living in Michigan. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 17,000 small businesses currently operating throughout the nation that are owned by veterans with a service-connected disability, including over 250 in Michigan.

The DRIVE Act is supported by a number of organizations, including the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the American Legion, High Ground Veterans Advocacy, Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Veteran Small Business Coalition.