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Fri Sep 18, 2020
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Senate Bills Address Family Issues

Senate Bills Address Family Issues


Two separate proposals aimed at easing the burden on military families have been introduced in the Senate. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., wants people with a spouse, child or parent in the military to be able to use up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year if they have unexpected additional family responsibilities.


The bill, S 683, would expand the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to the families of active-duty service members and to the families of National Guard and Reserve members if the reservists either receive mobilization orders or are notified of an impending call to active duty. The Family and Medical Leave Act was aimed at giving time off for birth, adoption and health care, but Feingold said his proposal would fill the same purpose. “In preparation for a deployment, military families often have to scramble to contact their landlords or mortgage companies and take care of other things that we deal with on a daily basis, from stopping the newspaper to making sure their plants are watered and their pets are cared for while they are gone,” Feingold said. He noted that his bill would allow the unpaid leave to be used either to prepare for a deployment or for additional responsibilities of family members while someone is deployed, to include child care.


Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has a different proposal, aimed at preventing a military couple with children from both deploying into a war zone. “As we wage war against Iraq, it is important that we work to ensure that a child will never have to endure the pain of losing both parents during wartime,” Boxer said. “Military families sacrifice so much to serve our nation. We should do everything we can to ensure their children are not orphaned.” Boxer’s bill, S 687, is similar to several measures introduced during and after the 1991 Gulf War when there was a focus on dual-service couples. No changes in law were made, but the services decided to put more emphasis into ensuring that single parents and dual-service couples had realistic plans for taking care of children when they deployed.

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