Kaine, Boozman, Hassan & Rounds Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Boost Hiring of Military Spouses
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and is Co-Chair of the Senate Military Families Caucus, and U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) introduced the Military Spouse Hiring Act, legislation to amend the tax code to incentivize businesses to hire military spouses. They were joined in the introduction by U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Mike Rounds (R-SD). Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA-08).
“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.”
“Serving in our nation’s uniform is a family affair. Servicemembers’ spouses are a critical piece of the support system underpinning America’s military and they deserve abundant access to meaningful career opportunities. Our bill helps encourage employers to hire these skilled and resilient men and women to enhance their own organizations while also strengthening our national defense,” said Boozman.
“It is not only service members themselves who sacrifice to keep our country safe, secure, and free, but also their family members who, in supporting them, face a variety of challenges as well,” said Hassan. “It is common for military spouses to struggle to find employment due to relocation and other factors, which is why we are reintroducing this bipartisan bill to incentivize companies to hire them. This business tax credit is a commonsense and concrete way to help our military families, and I will continue to work across the aisle on ways to support service members and their families.”
“Our service members and their families make incredible sacrifices to defend our country,” said Rounds. “One of these sacrifices includes relocating from one assignment to the next, which can make it difficult for military spouses to secure a job and for employers to hire them. We owe it to our service members and their families to remove obstacles hindering their financial well-being. Expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to include military spouses will help remove one barrier, giving our military families the opportunities they deserve.”
“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 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.”
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.
Kaine has long advocated for federal policies to help military spouses. The provisions of Kaine’s Military Spouse Employment Act that passed in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act expanded hiring and career opportunities for military spouses, improved access to continuing education programs, expanded transition and counseling resources, increased small business opportunities for military spouses, provided more opportunities for family wellness programs on military bases, and addressed the constant transfers and moves military families experience.
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).
“Incentivizing businesses to hire military spouses is an important component of addressing the continued high rates of unemployment within this community that sacrifices so much,” said Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret), President and CEO of the Military Officers Association of America. “We appreciate Sens. Kaine and Boozmans’ commitment to improving the financial stability and well-being of military spouses, which strengthens not just family finances but the overall readiness of the all-volunteer force.”
"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.”
In addition to Kaine, Boozman, Hassan, and Rounds, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rick Scott (R-FL), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Mark Warner (D-VA).