Bipartisan, Bicameral Delegation Introduces Legislation To Boost Hiring Of Military Spouses
Today, U.S. Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Carter (R-TX), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) led a bipartisan delegation in introducing the Military Spouse Hiring Act, legislation to amend the tax code to incentivize businesses to hire military spouses. Beyer, Kelly, and Panetta serve on the House Committee on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, with Kelly chairing the Tax Subcommittee. Carter chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, and is co-chair of the Army Caucus.
“My mother was a military spouse, and I am keenly aware of challenges facing partners of active-duty servicemembers, who often have to relocate their families long distances,” said Rep. Beyer. “Our legislation would make important changes to the tax code to overcome hurdles to employment that disproportionately affect military spouses, and show military families that their service to the nation is valued. This is the kind of bipartisan measure that I believe could win passage in the Ways and Means Committee, and I will continue working with my colleagues in both parties to advance it in the current session.”
“America’s soldiers and military families who support them on the frontlines deserve our nation’s support.” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Chairman of the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Tax. “Unfortunately, military spouses have a higher rate of unemployment and are often underemployed due to frequent relocations and service member deployments. Our bipartisan, bicameral legislation aims to help active-duty families get a leg up financially by encouraging local businesses to hire more military spouses in their communities. It’s a win-win for America.”
“Military spouses have a hard job, one that often means moving across the world, constantly changing circumstances, and difficulties getting hired,” said Rep. Carter. “The Military Spouse Hiring Act will incentivize businesses to take a chance on the amazing military spouses seeking employment. It’s a win-win for business and America’s military families.”
“When a family member serves, it’s the family of that servicemember that also ends up making many sacrifices,” said Rep. Panetta. “Many military spouses have to give up stable careers and experience high unemployment rates as they move around the world and meet the demands of military assignments. The Military Spouse Hiring Act would allow those spouses to be treated as a target group to qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Employers could then use that tax credit to hire more people and military spouses would have more opportunity to find meaningful employment wherever they go."
A Senate companion was introduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), John Boozman (R-AR), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Mike Rounds (R-SD).
“Our service members and their families make countless sacrifices for our security and freedom,” said Kaine. “In turn, we have a responsibility to take care of them—and that must include helping America’s talented military spouses access a wide range of work opportunities. Expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit is a bipartisan, commonsense step that can help us do that.”
According to a survey by Blue Star Families, military spouse employment is the top issue impacting active-duty families, and the top contributor to financial stress among military families. Military spouses consistently experience unemployment rates substantially higher than the national rate, and two thirds of employed active duty military spouses report underemployment. Frequent moves often stall military spouses’ upward career progression and force them to find new jobs. This hurts military families and military readiness.
Today’s legislation would address the issue by expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program—which incentivizes employers to hire individuals who experience unique employment barriers—to include military spouses.
The Military Spouse Hiring Act is supported by: Air & Space Forces Association, Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), American Veterans, Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, Blue Star Families, Commissioned Officers Association of the US Public Health Service (COA), Chief Warrant Officers Association of the US Coast Guard (CWOA), Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), Fleet Reserve Association, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV), Marine Corps League (MCL), Military Chaplains Association of the United States of America (MCA), Military Family Advisory Network, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Military Spouse Advocacy Network, National Military Family Association (NMFA), National Military Spouse Network, Non Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA), Reserve Organization of America (ROA), Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), The American Legion, The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA), Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), United States Army Warrant Officers Association (USA WOA), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Work Opportunity Tax Credit Coalition, and Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).
“Reps. Beyer, Kelly, Carter, and Panetta understand that improving military spouse employment, which hasn’t dropped below 20% in more than a decade, will have a positive impact on our military families and their local economies,” said Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret), President and CEO of the Military Officers Association of America. “Incentivizing businesses to hire military spouses via the Military Spouse Hiring Act is a critical addition to professional development and education opportunities already offered by the Department of Defense -- programs that can't succeed on their own.”
"Serving in our nation's military requires strength, resilience and sacrifice - not just from our service members, but from their spouses as well,” said Sue Hoppin, President of the National Military Spouse Network. “The Military Spouse Hiring Act is a crucial step towards recognizing the incredible contributions and talent that military spouses bring to the workforce, while also addressing the unique challenges they face. We applaud Senators Tim Kaine and John Boozman for their leadership in reintroducing this important legislation which will help military spouses build their careers and provide for their families, while also strengthening our military and our nation.”
“The military spouse unemployment rate has remained too high for too long. When military spouses can’t find work, it’s a problem for their family’s financial stability and wellbeing,” said Besa Pinchotti, Executive Director and CEO of the National Military Family Association. “The Military Spouse Hiring Act will encourage more employers to hire military spouses, investing in our military spouses, our military families, and our military as a whole."
“The Military Coalition (TMC), a consortium of organizations representing 5.5 million servicemembers, veterans, their families and survivors, believes expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to include a military spouse target group is an effective tool in addressing the stagnantly high unemployment rate among military spouses,” said Jack Du Teil, President of The Military Coalition. “TMC supports efforts that contribute to maintaining a strong national defense. In order to recruit and retain skilled and highly capable personnel, it is essential that we address military spouse unemployment in a way that brings all sectors together as parts of the solution.”