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Public Statements

Military Spouses Residency Relief Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CARTER. Mr. Speaker, this is an exciting day for me. I was the author of this bill. I have been dealing with the gentlewomen who brought this to my attention a long time ago, and it's coming to fruition today, and I am pleased and honored.

I am the author of the identical companion bill, H.R. 1182. I represent Fort Hood, Texas, which is a pretty good-sized military base in the United States, the largest. I rise in support of these military spouses for this Military Spouses Residency Relief Act.

First, I want to thank everyone who has worked on this bill and worked hard to bring it to this point. Senator Burr and Senator Feinstein over on the Senate side took up this cause and shepherded it and got it through the Senate, and this past-due reform is now before us today. I would also like to thank Chairman Filner for supporting our military spouses and requesting the bill be taken up today.

We greatly appreciate all the VSOs who lent their support, including the Military Officers Association of America, the Air Force Sergeants Association, AMVETS, the VFW, and the Military Spouse Business Association. Above all, I would like to thank all the military spouses who have encouraged me and who encourage their Representatives and Senators to support this bill.

Finally, I would like to extend a very special thanks to Rebecca Poynter and Joanna Williamson, two entrepreneurial spouses who brought this issue to me and devoted so much of their time working with all the Members that are involved to get this bill passed. This is their baby, and they should be recognized.

This small measure will provide invaluable relief to numerous military spouses who regularly uproot their entire lives to accommodate our Armed Forces. When I first heard this story, I was shocked that there was such a difference between husband and wife, the two spouses, as it relates to the benefits we give them in the military.

The Service members Civil Relief Act provides for basic civil relief to our men and women of the armed services in exchange for their voluntary service. These range from relief from adjudication while deployed in combat to maintaining a single State of domicile, regardless of where their military orders may send them.

This State of domicile provides an important stability for our soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors. Though their orders may send them to numerous places or numerous States, they are able to simplify their State income tax requirements, maintain their property titles, and continue to vote for their Member of Congress or their elected official back home. Without SCRA protections, the service members would have to deal with all those every time they move to military installations located in different States.

But spouses do have to deal with those every time they move to different States, and the spouses deal with these stresses even while faced with the challenge of moving, finding schools for children, balancing some unsupported relocation costs and the loss of a spouse's earnings as they leave the job to join the service member.

This bill would amend the SCRA to allow military spouses to claim the same domicile as the service member for the purpose of State income and property taxes, as well as voter registration. Spouses could elect to stand united with their spouse, not only in support of our country, but in sharing the same State as the home base. This reform would prevent a military family from suddenly losing up to 10 percent of their income if they are called upon to relocate to a different State. This is a significant loss of income that occurs as a direct result of governmental orders.

S. 475 would also provide the impetus for military spouses to put their names on deeds and titles, which would build and strengthen their own credit and further ensure their legal protection.

This Veterans Day, which is coming up the 11th of this month, next week, I will ask each and every one of us to not only remember our service members current and past, but take a moment to remember the military spouses who have sacrificed for and supported our soldiers.

Keeping that in mind, I ask my colleagues to grant this valuable relief to our military families and to support the passage of the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act.

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