Senator Shelby, while recognizing that the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill was not the appropriate vehicle for this legislation, used this opportunity to encourage the Senate Armed Services Committee to take action on this legislation this year. The following text is Senator Shelby’s floor statement, as prepared:
“Mr. President, I rise today to speak about this amendment because I believe it is very important to our Reserve and Guard units who have been called upon to serve their country during this time of war. This amendment is based on a bill I introduced last month with Senator Dorgan, and it provides a financial safety net for the families of our servicemembers proudly serving in our Nation's military Reserve and National Guard.
Today, our National Guard and Reserve units are being called upon more than ever and are being asked to serve their country in a very different way than in the past. The Global War on Terror and the high operational tempo of our military require that our reserve components play a more active role in the total force.
These long tours and frequent activations have a profound and disruptive effect on the lives of these men and women and on the lives of their families and loved ones. Many of our Reservists suffer a significant loss of income when they are mobilized - forcing them to leave often higher paying civilian jobs to serve their country. Such losses can be compounded by additional family expenses associated with military activation, including the cost of long distance phone calls and the need for additional child care. These circumstances create a serious financial burden that is extremely difficult for Reservists' families to manage. We can and should do more to alleviate this financial burden.
Therefore, this amendment would provide a completely refundable income tax credit of up to $20,000 annually to a military Reservist called to Active Duty. The amount of the tax credit would be based upon the difference between wages paid by the Reservist's civilian job and the military wages paid upon mobilization. The tax credit would be available to members of the National Guard or Ready Reserve who are serving for more than 90 days and would vary according to their length of service.
Now, Mr. President, is the time to recognize the service and sacrifice of the men and women who are in the Guard and Reserves. I believe that Congress must focus on this issue - it is important to thousands of servicemembers who are serving their country and struggling financially.
I recognize that the Emergency Supplemental may not be the best place to begin a discussion about this subject so I urge my colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee to not only study, but to work with me and Senator Dorgan to act on this issue this year.
At a time when the nation is calling our Guardsmen and Reservists to Active Duty to execute the war in Iraq, fight the War on Terrorism, and to defend our homeland, it is imperative that Congress recognize their vital role and acknowledge that the success of our military depends on these troops. It is not too much to ask of our nation and more importantly, Mr. President, it is the right thing to do.
Thank you, Mr. President. I want to withdraw my amendment, and I yield the floor.”