The shootings at Fort Hood yesterday are a national tragedy, and, like all Americans, I am shocked and deeply saddened by what transpired. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families during this difficult time. I am confident that the investigation of this horrific tragedy will be expeditious and thorough, and I anxiously await the results of that investigation.
On Monday, a major victory for military families was achieved when the House of Representatives passed S. 475, the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act. This is a bill I sponsored in the Senate that will finally provide military spouses with the same options servicemembers enjoy in choosing and maintaining a state of residence. Military spouses play a very important role in the success of our Armed Forces, but even though they are frequently asked to move in support of the military, the law currently does not grant spouses the same residency rights as servicemembers.
The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act will give a military spouse who moves out of state because of military orders the option to claim one state of domicile, regardless of where they move. It will make the move from station to station easier, removing the need to file tax returns for multiple states or to change vehicle and voter registrations with each move.
Our military families are often called on to make frequent relocations, and it is only fair that we give the same residency benefits to spouses as we do to servicemembers. This is one small way we can ease the burden they currently bear in caring for children and supporting our troops through frequent deployments. This bill passed the Senate in July, and now that the House has passed it as well, it is heading to the President's desk for a signature.
Today, the President signed a bill into law providing tax incentives to prospective homebuyers. This bill extends the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit of up to $8,000 to first-time home buyers until April 30, 2010. Additionally, the bill expands the credit to include a $6500 credit for current home owners purchasing a new or existing home so long as the home they are leaving has been used as their principal residence for 5 years or more. For more information on the home buyer tax credit, please visit irs.gov. The bill signed by the President today also extends unemployment benefits.
In other news, the President has nominated two North Carolinians, Judges Albert Diaz and James Wynn, to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The Fourth Circuit is located in Richmond, Virginia, and hears appeals from cases filed in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. Ours is the most populous state in the Fourth Circuit, but currently only one judge on the fifteen judge bench is from North Carolina. Since coming to the Senate, I have fought for greater representation for North Carolina on the United States Court of Appeals, and I plan to continue that fight.
House Health Care Reform Bill
The House is expected to vote on their version of the health care reform bill tomorrow. I am greatly concerned about the size, scope and cost of this bill and do not support it. To read the full version of the bill, please click here.
On Tuesday, November 17, 2009, my staff and I will hold a Veterans Fair at the Charlotte Armory in Charlotte, NC. The fair will give veterans the opportunity to have questions answered by Veterans Administration officials regarding claims and benefits, home loans and housing, the G.I. Bill, employment and training programs, healthcare, transition and readjustment programs, insurance, homelessness, contracting with the government, and federal legislation that affects veterans. To register for the fair or for more information please visit http://aiss.enews.senate.gov/t/82456/4619484/2358/0/ or call my office at (202) 224-3154.