ARMED FORCES TAX FAIRNESS ACT OF 2003
Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I rise today to share my strong support for this much needed and much deserved military tax package. I commend Chairman GRASSLEY and my many colleagues who have worked so hard on this bill for such a long time. As we all know, this tax package is long overdue.
As my colleagues know, the Armed Forces Tax Fairness Act of 2003 would provide critical tax relief to our service men and women. Specifically, this bill would remedy several tax problems that unfairly penalize the men and women serving in our military and Foreign Service. Certainly now, more than ever, we must correct these inequities. It is the right thing to do.
Mr. President, there are many service men and women from my home state of Ohio serving in our military today. My wife, Fran, and I pray for all of them and their familieswe pray that they will be safe, wherever they are and in whatever
capacity they are working. Many of these courageous men and women are in Iraq right now. Four of them from Ohio have been injured or are listed as missing. Both Army CPT Gregory Holden from Huron, OH, and Marine Corps Sgt. Jose Torres from Lorain, OH, have been injured in the war. And Army PVT Brandon Sloan from Bedford Heights, OH, and Marine Corps MSgt Robert Dowdy from Cleveland are listed as missing. I would like their families to know that we are praying for them. We pray for their recovery and their safe return home.
Mr. President, as we debate the merits of this bill, I would like to take a moment to discuss a specific provision that I have worked on for more than two yearsand that is a provision that would allow our National Guard and Reserve members to take deductions for travel expenses incurred getting to and from duty assignments. This initiative stems from legislation I first introduced two years ago, and then again this past January.
Specifically, the provision would provide a tax deduction for overnight travel costs incurred more than 100 miles from the taxpayer's home. These expenses include meals, transportation, and lodging up to the amount allowable under Department of Defense per diem allowances.
Mr. President, this provision is a positive step in the right direction, as approximately 225,000 Reservists and Guardsmen incur significant out-of-pocket expenseexpenses that often match or even exceed their military take-home pay.
The restoration of the tax deductibility of these expenses would help alleviate the personal and financial costs of these individuals' patriotic efforts. And, quite frankly, our servicemen and women should not be put in the position of subsidizing their own training.
I thank Chairman GRASSLEY, Senator BAUCUS, and the Finance Committee for working with my office to include my provision. I also would like to thank Senator MCCAIN and my 61 colleagues who co-sponsored this legislation with me last year. The incredible number of bipartisan co-sponsors demonstrates the widespread support our legislation carries, as well as the tremendous support we all share for our troops.
Mr. President, we owe these brave Americans our thanks and our deep and abiding gratitude for their service and dedication to our country and all that it represents. Whether in the streets of Baghdad, the deserts of Kuwait, or the caves of Afghanistan, we must never forget those men and women, who serve to uphold the ideals of our great Nation.
They have sacrificed so much not only to protect our freedom, liberty, and way of life here at home, but also to promote those ideals abroad.
Mr. President, this entire military tax package is an important sign of support for those called to serve, as well as their families. I urge my colleagues to support it.
I thank the Chair and yield the Floor.