September 25, 2019
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today voted unanimously to urge House-Senate National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference committee members to include Senator Jones’ Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act in Congress’ annual defense bill. In a vote of 94-0, the Senate approved a Motion to Instruct measure that sends a clear message to the defense bill conferees that the widow’s tax fix is a top priority. Senator Jones spoke on the floor before the vote to call for support.
The Senate and House versions of the NDAA are currently being reconciled in a conference committee and final legislative text is expected to be released in the coming weeks. The House has already approved the widow’s tax provision in its version of the bill. Senator Jones has repeatedly engaged leadership in the House and Senate to secure support for the bill’s inclusion in the NDAA, and led a letter with Republican Senator Susan Collins last month to the Armed Services Committee leadership asking them to do so. Their letter was signed by 64 of their Senate colleagues.
“It has been a long battle for the military spouses who have fought to fix this decades-old injustice, but today the Senate took an important step toward finally putting an end to the widow’s tax,” said Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “With this vote, we sent an unambiguous message that ending the military widow’s tax is an urgent priority for this body. I am hopeful that the conference committee leaders will finally do the right thing for these families, who have given so much for our country.”
Legislation to repeal the widow’s tax has been repeatedly introduced in the Senate over the past 18 years, but the bill has reached an unprecedented level of support under Senator Jones’s leadership. With Senator Jones as the lead sponsor, the bill has earned a record-high 77 total cosponsors in the Senate.
The Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act would repeal the unfair law that prevents as many as 67,000 surviving military spouses nationwide from receiving their full Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs survivor benefits. Currently, military widows and widowers who qualify for the VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) are forced to take a dollar-for-dollar offset from the Survivors Benefits Plan (SBP) benefit, even though their retired spouses elected to pay into the program.