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June 20, 2024

King Cosponsors Bipartisan Bill to Support Careers of Military Spouses and Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), is adding his support to bipartisan legislation that supports job flexibility for military spouses and their families. The Resilient Employment and Authorization Determination to Increase the National Employment of Serving Spouses (READINESS) Act, developed by current and former federally employed military spouses, aims to encourage the retainment of military spouses across the federal government and lower high employee turnover by encouraging more flexible remote working options. Currently, military spouse unemployment has remained more than 20% for three decades, and is six times the national unemployment rate. More than one-third of military families cite spouse employment challenges as a reason for leaving active duty.

Military and foreign service moves are involuntary, a consideration unique to this small group of federal employees. The lack of agency flexibility often results in spouses being forced to resign under threat of termination. The dearth of available jobs around many military bases then results in career breaks or voluntary demotions, negatively impacting the military family’s financial health.

“Military families make many sacrifices while defending America’s freedom and democracy, and too often, this includes spouses putting aside careers or turning down opportunities to pursue the American dream,” said Senator King. “The bipartisan READINESS Act is a commonsense bill to help military spouses maintain stable careers within the federal government. This country is forever indebted to our military families and the sacrifices they have made. I want to thank my colleagues for their support serving our military families—just as they continue to serve us.”

More specifically, the READINESS Act creates a decision tree when an employee presents their supervisor with military or foreign service orders. 1) Can this employee’s position be performed remotely; 2) can they transfer to an agency position within the commuting area of the new location; or 3) can they transfer to an agency position that can be performed remotely? If not, place them in a nonpay status (i.e., Leave Without Pay) for the greater of their spouse’s orders or 36 months – with the employing agency able to backfill the position, unencumbered.

Joining King on the legislation are Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Rick Scott (R-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Jon Ossoff (D-GA). Representatives Don Bacon (R-NE-02) and Jasmine Crockett (D-TX-30) introduced the House version of the bill last November.

Representing one of the states with the highest rates of military families and veterans per capita, Senator King has been a staunch advocate for America’s servicemembers and veterans. Most recently, he led the bipartisan Military Spouse Employment Act — pieces of which passed into law in the FY2024 NDAA —which allows military spouses to have a remote work career with any federal agency and helps them to maintain consistent employment should they move with their spouse.


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