Bipartisanship is a rarity these days, so when it happens, and by whom, deserves our recognition. The recent actions by members of the For Country Caucus, who recently led a group of members on both sides of the aisle in working towards correcting a tax issue that impacted Gold Star Families, is an example of one such occasion.
Because media attention is an important factor in determining what happens politically, it is critical that these moments are recognized as the epitome of how we expect our elected officials to function, rather than only being pointed out as an anomaly.
The For Country Caucus, a cross-partisan group of military veterans looking to restore the public trust in how Congress operates, deserves our recognition for their consistent focus on “put[ting] their country first.” This emphasis was recently on display when the caucus endorsed its first piece of legislation, H.R. 2481, the Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act.
By way of background, in 2017, when Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, certain survivors’ benefits that accrued to children of survivors were reclassified as “unearned income,” thus subjecting them to higher estate taxes.
No one was more sensitive to this issue than members of Congress who were veterans themselves.
“Our Gold Star veterans and their families made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” stated Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawThis issue will secure a Democratic wipeout in 2022 House Ethics panel dismisses security screening fine issued to GOP lawmaker Juan Williams: The GOP is an anti-America party MORE (R-Tex.) in a press release, a military veteran who is a member of the For Country Caucus, “We are indebted to these families. The least we can do is change the unintended consequence, so that children aren’t taxed unfairly for a benefit they truly deserve.”
Similarly, Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaVulnerable House Democrat announces reelection bid on anniversary of Jan. 6 Virginia Supreme Court approves new lines for key swing districts Proposed Virginia maps put rising-star House Democrats at risk MORE (D-Va.), the original sponsor of the bill in the House stated, “As a proud Navy veteran, it is an honor to be leading the charge to help our Gold Star Families.” She continued, “I am humbled by the outpouring of bipartisan support for this bill.”
Both Luria and Crenshaw are members of the For Country Caucus.
Due to the hard work of veterans like Luria, Crenshaw, and other members of the For Country Caucus, the bill passed out of the House as part of the SECURE Act, which is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate.
Just as important as correcting this tax loophole, however, is the bipartisan nature in which both Republican and Democrats in the House came together around this cause. As many in our nation seek to find solutions to our polarized government, the results show that the answer often lies in the continued service of military veterans.
Currently, veterans make up a historic low 18 percent of Congress. Whereas the number of members with military experience peaked at 75 percent in 1967 for the House, and at 81 percent in 1975 for the Senate, the ability of Congress to work together effectively was much higher during that time period as well.
As noted by With Honor Action, a new cross-partisan movement dedicated to promoting and advancing principled veteran leadership in elected public service, this trend is “not a coincidence.” And, given that last year’s midterm elections sent a surge of veterans to Congress, there is an opportunity to not just remedy individual injustices like the Gold Star families tax issue, but also to strengthen our nation’s trust in Congress.
With Honor Action has put its money where its mouth is, announcing a six-figure digital and print buy for ads thanking Members of the For Country Caucus for their bipartisan and effective leadership on the Gold Star Families Tax Relief Act.
According to Rye Barcott, Co-Founder and CEO of With Honor, “We would like to thank the veterans in the bipartisan For Country Caucus who worked together on this common-sense legislation. At a time when the dysfunction in Congress continues to stall progress, we applaud these veterans for coming together to find solutions for Gold Star families.”
The digital and print ad buy announced by Barcott will run for two weeks in Washington, D.C. and 19 congressional districts, as well as on social media.
Like bipartisanship itself, organizations that say what they mean and mean what they say are also a rarity in politics. Because issues that receive more media attention tend to also receive more political attention, veterans in Congress, and the organizations that support them such as With Honor and the For Country Caucus, are more deserving of the spotlight than those needlessly bickering over partisan topics.
Rory E. Riley-Topping served as a litigation staff attorney for the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), where she represented veterans and their survivors before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. She also served as the staff director and counsel for the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs for former Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.). You can find her on Twitter: @RileyTopping.