Hiring military spouses encouraged under McMorris Rodgers, Bacon bill

U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Don Bacon (R-NE) recently introduced a bipartisan bill to incentivize American employers to hire the spouses of United States military service members. 

“Military families face a unique set of challenges, one of which is spousal employment,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers, co-chair of the Congressional Military Family Caucus. “It’s my goal to make sure they have the support they need, and this bipartisan legislation will help bridge the employment gap.” 

Unemployment rates for military spouses far exceed the national average, according to research from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Hiring Our Heroes Foundation. The Military Spouse Hiring Act — which at press time had not yet received a number in the congressional record — would help reduce such rates by expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

Specifically, the bill would include the hiring of qualified military spouses under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit so that employers could claim a tax credit equal to a portion of the wages paid to those spouses, according to a bill summary provided by Reps. Bacon and McMorris Rodgers.

“This legislation addresses the military spouse’s unemployment and underemployment crisis, ensuring spouses can find work and encouraging employers to hire them,” Rep. Bacon said. “This is the right thing to do.”

Existing law extends the Workforce Opportunity Tax Credit to employers that hire qualified military veterans, among other targeted groups, and the proposed bill would amend the law to provide the same tax incentive to employers that hire their spouses, the summary says.

“Frequent military moves make it very challenging for military spouses to find work and use the licenses they’ve earned in other states,” said Rep. Bacon. “As a nearly 30-year Air Force veteran who has deployed and moved multiple times, I understand the many sacrifices made by military families and spouses, and supporting them is a top priority of mine.”

Rep. McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Bacon introduced the bill with U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY), who in May 2019 sponsored similar legislation, H.R. 2912, that stalled in the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.

The National Military Spouse Network has endorsed the newly introduced measure.