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Congressional Democrats Call on Chairman Hunter to Help Military Widows

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Location: Washington, DC


Congressional Democrats Call on Chairman Hunter to Help Military Widows

May 5, 2004

Washington, D.C.-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and 168 House Democrats sent a letter today to Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter calling on him to include the Widow's Tax relief, supported by 328
Members of the House of Representatives, in the 2005 National Defense Authorization bill.

The Members wrote: "This penalty overwhelmingly affects elderly women and has been referred to as the 'Widow's Tax.' This reduction in benefits is currently causing severe hardship for many of the surviving spouses whose benefits have already been reduced. Unless corrected, the number of surviving spouses who will lose income over the next decade will increase dramatically as more and more survivors reach age 62."

The full text of the letter follows:

May 5, 2004

Chairman Duncan Hunter

Armed Services Committee

2120 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Hunter:

We are writing to request that you include as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005,
legislation such as that provided in H.R. 548 to phase out the reduction in Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) benefits
suffered by surviving spouses of military retirees who reach the age of 62. This policy has broad bipartisan support as
evidenced by the 328 Members of the House of Representatives who have agreed to cosponsor the bill.

Despite such widespread support, H.R. 548 has not been brought to the floor of the House either as a stand-alone bill or
as part of a Defense Authorization Act. We believe that it is time to do so.

Many servicemembers who agreed to pay premiums to provide their spouses with an adequate retirement income in the
event of their death were informed that the SBP benefit payable to their survivors would be 55 percent of their
retirement benefit. The documents they signed did not include any information to indicate that the benefits would be
reduced to 35 percent when the spouses attained age 62.

This penalty overwhelmingly affects elderly women and has been referred to as the "Widow's Tax." This reduction in
benefits is currently causing severe hardship for many of the surviving spouses whose benefits have already been
reduced. Unless corrected, the number of surviving spouses who will lose income over the next decade will increase
dramatically as more and more survivors reach age 62.

We have heard from surviving spouses who are struggling to meet basic living expenses and who must make painful
choices concerning food, fuel and housing costs as the result of current law. These spouses were married to persons
who gave 20 or more years of military service. In many cases, the survivors endured significant hardships, including
months of separation from spouses who were serving around the world.

The reduction is unfair, unnecessary and unworthy of a Nation that can afford tax breaks for wealthy individuals and
corporations. We urge you to include language in the 2005 defense authorization bill to eliminate immediately or at
least phase out the reduction over the next five years.

Sincerely,

Anibal Acevedo-Vila

Gary Ackerman

Rodney Alexander

Tom Allen

Robert Andrews

Joe Baca

Tammy Baldwin

Frank Ballance

Chris Bell

Shelley Berkley

Howard Berman

Marion Berry

Tim Bishop

Sanford Bishop

Earl Blumenauer

Madeline Bordallo

Leonard Boswell

Rick Boucher

Sherrod Brown

Corrine Brown

Lois Capps

Mike Capuano

Dennis Cardoza

Brad Carson

Julia Carson

Ed Case

Ben Chandler

Donna Christensen

William Lacy Clay

Jim Clyburn

John Conyers

Jim Cooper

Jerry Costello

Joe Crowley

Elijah Cummings

Artur Davis

Jim Davis

Susan Davis

Lincoln Davis

Peter DeFazio

William Delahunt

Rosa DeLauro

Norm Dicks

John Dingell

Lloyd Doggett

Mike Doyle

Chet Edwards

Rahm Emanuel

Elliot Engel

Anna Eshoo

Bob Etheridge

Lane Evans

Eni Faleomavaega

Sam Farr

Bob Filner

Harold Ford

Barney Frank

Martin Frost

Dick Gephardt

Gene Green

Raul Grijalva

Luis Gutierrez

Jane Harman

Alcee Hastings

Baron Hill

Maurice Hinchey

Ruben Hinojosa

Joe Hoeffel

Tim Holden

Rush Holt

Michael Honda

Darlene Hooley

Steny Hoyer

Jay Inslee

Steve Israel

Jesse Jackson

Shelia Jackson Lee

Christopher John

Paul Kanjorski

Marcy Kaptur

Patrick Kennedy

Dale Kildee

Carolyn Kilpatrick

Ron Kind

Dennis Kucinich

Nick Lampson

James Langevin

Tom Lantos

Rick Larsen

John Larson

Barbara Lee

Sander Levin

John Lewis

Zoe Lofgren

Nita Lowey

Kenneth Lucas

Stephen Lynch

Denise Majette

Carolyn Maloney

Edward Markey

Jim Marshall

Robert Matsui

Carolyn McCarthy

Betty McCollum

Jim McDermott

James McGovern

Mike McIntyre

Martin Meehan

Kendrick Meek

Gregory Meeks

Robert Menendez

Michael Michaud

Juanita Millender-McDonald

Brad Miller

George Miller

Dennis Moore

Jim Moran

Jerrold Nadler

Grace Napolitano

Richard Neal

Eleanor Holmes Norton

James Oberstar

Solomon Ortiz

Major Owens

Frank, Jr. Pallone

William, Jr. Pascrell

Donald Payne

Nancy Pelosi

Nick, II Rahall

Charles Rangel

Ciro Rodriguez

Mike Ross

Steven Rothman

Lucille Roybal-Allard

Dutch Ruppersberger

Bobby Rush

Tim Ryan

Linda Sanchez

Loretta Sanchez

Bernie Sanders

Max Sandlin

Janice Schakowsky

Adam Schiff

David Scott

Robert Scott

José Serrano

Brad Sherman

Adam Smith

Vic Snyder

Hilda Solis

Fortney Stark

Charles Stenholm

Ted Strickland

Bart Stupak

Ellen Tauscher

Gene Taylor

Mike Thompson

John Tierney

Edolphus Towns

Jim Turner

Mark Udall

Tom Udall

Chris Van Hollen

Maxine Waters

Henry Waxman

Anthony Weiner

Robert Wexler

Lynn Woolsey

Albert Wynn

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