PHOTO: Congressmen Wilson, Yarmuth Hold Press Conference With Military Surviving Spouses

May 28, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressmen Joe Wilson (SC-02) and John Yarmuth (KY-03) stood alongside military surviving spouses and Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) to share good news and urge fellow Members of Congress to join over 300 bipartisan co-sponsors and support H.R. 553, the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act. Below are Congressman Wilson’s remarks as prepared for the press conference.

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Congressmen Joe Wilson and John Yarmuth stand alongside spouses of fallen heroes and VSOs to put an end to the Widow’s tax on May 22, 2019.

“I am grateful to be a lead sponsor of the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act and to be here in support of members of the military and their beloved family members. First, I would like to thank two of our honored guests, Ms. Gabby Kubinyi and Ms. Edie Smith, for being here today. Your unwavering commitment to the families who made the ultimate sacrifice does not go unnoticed.

“Thank you, Congressman John Yarmuth, Chairman of the Budget Committee, for your continued partnership and leadership on this important legislation. Finally, thank you to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), National Military Family Association (NMFA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) for your support.

“The Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act is legislation that has been proposed for nearly a decade, with advocates fighting for their benefits for over two decades. The Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act is designed to eliminate an unfair deduction of benefits which is placed on surviving spouses of service members when their spouse passes away during active duty. It also applies to surviving spouses of retirees who pass away because of a service-connected cause.

“I am very pleased to announce the House of Representatives has exceeded 290 co-sponsors, which has allowed the House to move the bill to the House Floor for consideration after 25 legislative days. The Senate has reached their threshold to do the same for Senate Bill 622. Republicans and Democrats from both the House and Senate are coming together to put an end to the Widow’s tax.

“We owe it to our servicemembers and their families to do all that we can to protect and honor them. Our nation’s military personnel risk their lives to defend our nation and our freedoms—they should be able to trust that the benefits they designate for their spouses and families will provide for them. It is unconscionable to think there is a ‘Widow’s tax’ on the surviving family members of our courageous men and women.

“Tireless advocates like Edie and Gabby sent a message to Congress saying, ‘Those who died earned this benefit. It’s not a gratuitous benefit. They earned it.’ It is a top priority to ensure that over 65,000 surviving military spouses are receiving the benefits they deserve. It is past time to do the right thing for our country’s military widows.

“Ahead of Memorial Day, we should all take time to reflect upon our fallen heroes and remember their sacrifices for our great country. Freedom is not free. We thank them and their families for their service. With that, I am grateful to be joined by Chairman John Yarmuth, my distinguished colleague from Kentucky.”