Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity on the importance of her legislation, H.R. 282, the Military Residency Choice Act. This legislation will give military spouses the choice to establish the same state of residency as the service member, giving them the benefit of keeping the same state of residency for voting and tax purposes. Click here for video of her remarks, or read the transcript below.
Thank you Chairman Arrington and Ranking Member O’Rourke for the opportunity to testify today before the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.
I would like to commend the work of this subcommittee in improving education and employment opportunities for veterans, bettering veterans' housing programs, and assisting service members with civil relief.
I would also like to thank Representative Wittman, who joins me today in testifying before the subcommittee in support of the Military Residency Choice Act.
I know both he and I have the highest respect for military families and have focused our legislative efforts on supporting their cause.
Military families make great sacrifices for the protection of our nation and the safeguarding of our freedom, and I feel it is my duty as a Congresswoman to help ease the burdens that they face.
I proudly represent two of our nation’s premier military installations, Fort Drum, the home of the 10th Mountain Division and the Kesserling Site, a Navy nuclear training facility.
In addition, New York’s 21st district is home to more veterans than any Congressional district in the state.
This has given me the opportunity get to know the many military families within our district and grow familiar with the unique hardships and challenges they face.
For instance, military families must relocate every few years due to their spouse’s responsibility to meet the requirements of the military.
They sacrifice a great deal during these relocations—uprooting their lives and disrupting their families—all while remaining committed to their duty as the spouse of a service member and serving as the critical support system for their loved ones.
This is often a difficult and trying time, with the heaviest burden falling upon military spouses.
I have introduced several bills that target the strain our military spouses face, especially during times of deployment and relocation, and today I would like to highlight H.R. 282, the Military Residency Choice Act.
Current law allows active duty service members to maintain one state of legal residence for tax and voting purposes, even when service members receive military orders requiring them to relocate.
Under this law, spouses are only granted the same benefit if the service member and spouse have established the same tax residence at the time of their marriage.
Essentially, this requires spouses to establish residency every time the service member receives orders with assignment to a new location—adding undue stress and anxiety to military families already under the pressure of managing their relocation.
H.R. 282, the Military Residency Choice Act, will give military spouses the choice to establish the same state of residency as the service member, giving them the benefit of keeping the same state of residency for voting and tax purposes.
Military spouses serve too, and this piece of legislation eliminates the daunting task of documenting multiple tax jurisdictions, which at times causes some spouses to forego the complication of working all together.
According to a study commissioned by the nonprofit group Blue Star Families, military spousal unemployment could cost the United States up to $1 billion dollars a year in the loss of federal income tax, the costs of unemployment benefits, and the costs of health care issues related to unemployment.
This common sense legislation will make this easier for military spouses to work, and help reduce instances of military spousal unemployment.
Through my constituents, I have listened to the sacrifices our military families make to keep our nation safe.
We have a duty to reduce the burden they face while they are fulfilling their duty to our nation.
I want to thank Chairman Arrington and Ranking Member O’Rourke for their leadership of this subcommittee and for the opportunity to speak today.
I would now like to yield to my colleague and friend, Representative Whitman from Virginia, who also understands the sacrifices our military families make and has championed this issue.