tv U.S. Senate Sen. Doug Jones on Military Survivor Benefits CSPAN March 12, 2019 7:50pm-8:01pm EDT
supported by americans across all ethnic boundaries, 58 percent of hispanic voters, 52 percent of black voters, 74 percent of asian voters polled all support e-verify. i will close this, perhaps it's t'time that congress in both parties take a very deep breath and listen to the american people instead of to our own echo chambers. before we discuss expanding guestworker programs or discuss comprehensive immigration reform, let's first codify e-verify and restore the american people's trust in our immigration system. i suggest the absence of a quorum. >> mr. president.
arrives today to talk about something that quite frankly i find to be completely abhorrent. that is the shortchanging of our nations military widows when it comes to survivor buffets that they paid for and earned. it's something i was dismayed to learn about that's happening into some 65,000 surviving spouses including more than 2000 alabama. of american military service members who were killed in action or died as a result of service-connected causes. after suffering the loss of a loved one military widows and their families can find themselves unexpectedly losing out on vital survivor benefits that they plan to receive in these tragic circumstances. that's because under current law surviving spouses are entitled to receive da dependency and indemnity compensation benefits are what's known as dic benefits.
some families go a step further like many families in the private sector many go a step further by voluntarily paying into the defense department's survivors benefits plan. which acts like an additional life insurance policy. again, the title to the dic benefit to pay for additional coverage. should there be a tragic accident or tragic death. it acts like a surviving additional life insurance policy. that policy is something these families pay into voluntarily. like any other life insurance plan you or i might buy, they expect to get the benefits that they pay for. for those who are entitled to receive these benefits for both programs, they are subject to what's been known as the widows tax. this is only for those folks who are getting benefits from
both programs. dic and surviving benefits. because our law prohibits widows from receiving their full benefits from both programs. that's the widows tax. instead their stb annuity is prorated because there dic payment is subtracted from it. they don't get the full benefit of those programs when one gets subtracted from the other. simply put, it's really a way for the federal government to save a few bucks by simply ripping off military widows whose families paid extra to receive these additional benefits. voluntarily paid extra to receive these benefits. this isn't just a problem facing active-duty families, asit's far bigger folks because it impacts anyone who has a service connected depth. to put that in context in alabama alone there are over
60,000 department of defense retirees whose families could be impacted by the widows tax if the veteran were to pass a service-connected reason. i understand that we got to be careful stewards of taxpayer dollars, and fully aware of that. but give me a break when it comes to military spouses and widows.this is a benefit that families paid for out of their own pockets if they are not getting the money it begs the question, who is? no surviving spouse should be faced with this kind of unexpected and completely unfair cut to the benefits they ought to be able to count on in these heartbreaking circumstances. no surviving spouse should have to fight for what their families are owed in the wake of family tragedy. and again, this is what they are owed.
this is the things that they have paid for in more ways than one. no surviving spouse should have to mount a massive lobbying effort to in the capital of the united states of this great country to get folks to understand that this is wrong and we need to fix it. every year there is a a campaig to fix this program and yet it doesn't get done. instead these families should be focusing on helping the families begin to heal and find strength it should be given a space and time to breathe. it's an absolute shame that this is even a problem we need to address. that's why i've introduced bipartisan legislation with several of my colleagues senator collins, tester, craig you and 31 others to repeal the law that prevents these families from receiving their just due.
the military widows tax elimination act of 2019 reflects our belief that people who put their lives on a line for the country deserve to know that their families will be taking care of. something god forbid ever happens to them. our bill has support from the goldstar lives of america the vfw. the military officers association of america the national military family association. the tragedy assistance programs for survivors. and so many others. in fact, some of the most dedicated activists from the goldstar lives are watching today from the gallery. right now including crystal ^ harriet boyden, don eldridge. i want to thank them all for their leadership and for their continued contributions to our country. this legislation has been introduced previous sessions of
congress. but it is yet to pass in large part because of concerns about the cost. while as i said i certainly understand that that there is going to be a cost associated with this we are talking about a benefits plan that these families paid for on their own accord. it is there money that went into this fund, not money of taxpayers. not money that is appropriated every year. it is their money and they deserve to get it back. i think we can all agree that ending the widows tax is the right thing to do for our military families. why don't we finally get it done in this 116th congress. let's show our troops and their families that we support them not just in word but in deed. let's show these surviving spouses and their children that we stand with them long after their loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice for this
country and long after we know that they too have made a sacrifice in the name of this country. let's right this wrong and finally pass finally pass the military widows tax elimination act. i urge my colleagues to do the right thing it's never ever to late to do it. even though this has been tried before, it is never too late to do the right thing and support this bill. thank you mr. president, i yield the floor. >> the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. >> ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. >> the people who knocked these buildings down ã
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