McMorris Rodgers, Bishop Host Another Successful Virtual Military Family Summit
Washington, D.C. (October 15, 2021) – Yesterday, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Congressman Sanford Bishop (GA-02), co-chairs of the Military Family Caucus, hosted the 12th annual Military Family Summit virtually. The Military Family Summit brings together service members and their families with Department of Defense officials and military family support organizations to discuss the most pressing issues facing military families today, including housing, spousal employment, and education for grades K-12 and children with special needs.
First Lady Jill Biden, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston, and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Patrick Donahoe were keynote speakers at this year’s event.
The following are excerpts of Cathy’s remarks as prepared for delivery.
The Military Family Summit
“This yearly summit is a special opportunity for us all to come together as spouses, families, and government officials to get on the same page. We want to hear from you, so we know what your current priorities are as military families. It also gives us a chance to update you on what we in Congress are working on.
“I just want to say to all the military spouses and other family members here today: we all owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude for all you do for the United States of America. All of us in Congress, and the whole country, are so proud of you and are grateful for your sacrifices and service to our country.
“We are here to serve you, and we want to help. You should also urge your friends and other military families to get involved. The challenges before us are great, but together, I know we can make a real difference.”
More Job Opportunities for Military Spouses
“I am working on several bills in the 117th Congress to address issues I hear about most. A huge one is HR 2650, the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act. This legislation would fix a huge problem that I hear about from military spouses, who have often been licensed and working for years in a particular occupation only to move to a new base and be told that all that paperwork and years of experience isn’t enough for them to show they can do their job safely.
“This bill would require professional licenses from any state to be accepted as equivalent in other states for military spouses who are under orders, so long as their original license is in good standing, and they follow the regulations in their new state.
“I’m also very excited about HR 418, the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act. This bill would allow employers to use the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for hiring military spouses. It also would allow military families to set up flexible spending accounts to pay for their childcare on a pretax basis.”
Expanding Services for Military Families
“Another great bill this Congress that I’m working on passing is HR 4021, the Representation for Exceptional Military Families Act. I know this bill is a big priority for Partners in Promise—a group that is speaking here today. This bill would establish an Exceptional Family Member Program Advisory Council in the Department of Defense.
“This Council would provide recommendations on how to improve the Exceptional Family Member Program across the services. I know a big problem is that there is not enough consistency in the Exceptional Family Member Program across all of the service branches.
“Having a special advisory council at the Department of Defense is a great first step towards making sure there is a consistently strong Exceptional Family Member Program across all service branches and that the program puts forth solution to the unique challenges military families face.
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
“There are also several provisions that I was glad to support in this year’s NDAA. While the bill won’t be finalized until later this year the House version of the bill would:
- Provide expedited housing where it is feasible for Family Child Care providers offering in-home care.
- Call for improvements to partner criteria of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Program.
- Add dispute resolution options to the DoD Tenant Bill of Rights, allowing military families to withhold a percentage of rent when landlords don’t fulfill agreements and giving military families access to 7 years of maintenance records.
- Give Exceptional Family Member Program families access to the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) program.
- Provide servicemembers with a 2.7% pay raise.
- And more!
“I remain constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to help military families, and I know today’s event will shine some light on more than a few. ”
Click here for Part 1 and Part 2 of this year’s event.