February 27, 2018

Kaine, Bipartisan Senators Introduce Second Bill To Reduce Military Spouse Unemployment

Kaine is a Co-Chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus 

Bill incentivizes businesses to hire military spouses and improves access to childcare

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Co-Chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus, introduced the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2018 to address military spouse unemployment and access to affordable childcare. The new legislation, introduced by Senators Kaine, John Boozman (R-AR), and Jon Tester (D-MT) would change the tax code to incentivize businesses to hire military spouses and make it easier for military families to afford childcare. This is the second bipartisan piece of legislation that Kaine has introduced in recent weeks to help lower the high military spouse unemployment rate.

Military families frequently face financial insecurity due to spousal unemployment, which impacts the overall success of our military. Somewhere between 12% and 25% of military spouses are unemployed. Kaine met with military spouses in Virginia last year to listen to their suggestions, and incorporated many of those ideas into the Military Spouse Employment Act and the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act.

The Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act encourages businesses to step up and play a bigger role in hiring military spouses who already sacrifice so much,” Kaine said. “And it further addresses a real obstacle to professional success for many military families: access to quality, affordable childcare. Addressing these issues will help military spouses advance in their careers despite frequent moves, and if we can do something to make life easier for our country’s military families, we should.”

“Military spouses are vital to our all-volunteer force. They make sacrifices, like taking on family duties during long deployments and supporting frequent moves, and they do it mostly without recognition. As a result, they face a unique set of challenges that make career advancement more difficult. This is a thoughtful approach to help ease the burden on our military families by improving employment opportunities for spouses,” Boozman said.

“Our nation’s military spouses are no stranger to service and sacrifice,” Tester said. “This bipartisan bill will help provide more opportunities for them and ease the financial stress that so many military families face in the defense of our nation.”   

Specific provisions of the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act:

  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit
    • Expands the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to incentivize businesses to hire military spouses, similar to veterans and other populations that face employment obstacles.
  • Dependent Care Savings Accounts
    • Makes flexible spending accounts available to military families so they can opt in to reserve pre-tax dollars from their paychecks to pay for out-of-pocket childcare expenses.

Throughout the last year, Kaine, the proud father of a Marine, heard from military spouses, business leaders, and military family advocates about how to best address the high level of military spouse unemployment. In January, Kaine introduced the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018 to expand hiring and career opportunities, improve access to continuing education programs, help ensure military families can find affordable childcare, and provide better transition and employment resources for military spouses. A year ago in Hampton, Kaine sat down with military spouses, who spoke about the lack of employment opportunities and reliable childcare, and the strain it has put on their families. Following the event, he asked Northern Virginia Technology Council and Blue Star Families, a military families advocacy organization, to help him bring together a group of individuals with diverse opinions and experiences for a summit with military spouses and business leaders to brainstorm ideas for improving employment opportunities. Kaine also invited Lakesha Cole  – a military spouse and entrepreneur who is a native of Portsmouth, VA – to be his guest to the State of the Union Address as a way to highlight the service of military families and build bipartisan support to address military spouse unemployment. Kaine announced the initial piece of legislation alongside members of the Military Families Advisory Network in Suffolk, VA earlier this month.

The Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act is endorsed by Blue Star Families, Military Officers Association of America, National Military Families Association, and the Military Family Advisory Network.

For a one-pager on the bill, click here.

For the full text of the bill, click here.

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