Tester, Kaine, Boozman Introduce Bill to Build on Efforts to Reduce Military Spouse Unemployment

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Armed Services Committee and Co-Chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus, reintroduced the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2019 to build on efforts to reduce military spouse unemployment and improve access to affordable childcare. The 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. 

“Our nation’s military spouses and families make great professional and personal sacrifices every day,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. “We’ve got to improve access to employment opportunities for military families, and help ensure they can afford quality childcare without breaking the bank.”

“The men and women who support our troops deserve our support too. This bill is an effort to improve job opportunities and access to affordable childcare for military spouses as they face frequent moves and unexpected transfers. The families who sacrifice so much to serve our country should never have to choose between staying in the military and supporting their own families,” Kaine said.

“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. 

Military families frequently face financial insecurity due to spousal unemployment, which is an often overlooked military readiness issue, and obstacles to accessing quality, affordable childcare exacerbate these challenges. Unlocking the full talent of the nearly one million active duty, reserve, and National Guard spouses would improve these families’ financial security while boosting their local economies.

The Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act includes two main provisions:

·         Work Opportunity Tax Credit

o    Expands the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to incentivize businesses to hire military spouses. The tax credit is already offered to businesses that hire veterans and other populations that face employment obstacles.

·         Dependent Care Savings Accounts

o    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.

Kaine has focused in the Senate on supporting veterans, servicemembers, and their families. He’s been a leader on efforts to reduce unemployment for veterans and military spouses and ensure those who serve our nation receive the health care and benefits they were promised. Last year, Kaine’s legislation to reduce military spouse unemployment was signed into law along with a provision from the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act that encouraged DoD to establish dependent care savings account for military families.

In addition to Kaine, Boozman, and Tester, the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).  The bill is endorsed by Blue Star Families, Military Officers Association of America, National Military Families Association, and Servicewomen’s Action Network.

For the full text of the bill, click here.