09/18/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/18/2019 10:19
Washington, D.C. - Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi named U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) to serve on a conference committee of the House and Senate versions of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) late Tuesday. NDAA conferees from the House and Senate will work together to resolve differences between the distinct defense authorization bills passed by each chamber in June.
The NDAA authorizes funding to equip, supply and train U.S. troops and support military families. The bill has proudly been passed by Congress for 58 continuous years. Sewell, a senior member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Chair of the Subcommittee on Defense Intelligence and Warfighter Support, is committed to continuing this bipartisan tradition of passing a smart defense bill that provides servicemembers with the resources they need to address and counter today's increasingly complex national security challenges. She is also hopeful conferees will include in the bill an elimination of the Military Widow's Tax, which unfairly taxes military widows and widowers' survivor benefits.
'The House and Senate have historically put political divisions aside to pass the NDAA, which authorizes our national defense priorities for the year and provides our troops with the resources needed to carry out their missions at home and abroad,' Sewell said. 'I am committed to continuing this tradition and working to exclude any partisan provisions that threaten the defense and wellbeing of our nation. As representative of a state that plays such a major part in our national security, I am honored to be able to play such a significant role as a conferee this year.'
'Included in the House-passed defense authorization bill is also a provision to eliminate the Military Widow's Tax, which prevents as many as 65,000 surviving military spouses nationwide from receiving their full Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs (VA) survivor benefits. Senator Jones has been a tireless advocate for the tax's elimination in the Senate, and I am hopeful we can finally get it across the finish line to ensure our servicemembers' families receive the benefits they have paid for and earned,' Sewell continued. 'I also look forward to advocating for other priorities for the 7th District and the state of Alabama, including fully funding the F-35 program, ensuring we have all the resources needed to prevent and respond to cyberattacks and improving diversity in military and intelligence recruitment and retention.'
Under current law, the surviving spouse of a retired member who dies of a service-connected cause, or a service member killed on active duty, is entitled to compensation from the VA. If the military retiree was also enrolled in the Department of Defense's Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), the surviving spouse's SBP benefits are reduced by the amount of their VA compensation. This leaves many widows and widowers with as little as $2,200 of the $3,525 per month they had expected to receive to support their families after their loved one's passing. The Military Widow Tax Elimination Act, which is included in the House-passed version of NDAA, would repeal this required offset and authorize payment of both SBP and VA benefits in the case of a service-connected death.
The Military Widow's Tax Elimination Act currently has 372 in the House of Representatives and 75 cosponsors in the Senate, making it clear that Congress understands the importance of eliminating this burden.
The House Democratic Conferees to the conference committee are:
House Committee on Armed Services
House Committee on Budget
House Committee on Education and Labor
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
House Committee on Financial Services
House Committee on Foreign Affairs
House Committee on Homeland Security
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
House Committee on Judiciary
House Committee on Natural Resources
House Committee on Oversight and Reform
House Committee on Science, Space and Technology
House Committee on Small Business
• Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez of New York, Chair
• Congressman Jared Golden of Maine
House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
House Committee on Veterans' Affairs