Washington- Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) testified on her bipartisan Gold Star Spouses Leasing Relief Act at the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. Bustos introduced bipartisan legislation earlier this week with Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) that would allow surviving military spouses to break their leases without penalty in the aftermath of losing their spouse in service to our nation
You can find the full text of the Congresswoman’s remarks below:
Thank you, Chairman Arrington and Ranking Member O’Rourke, for allowing me to testify today.
I am here to offer bipartisan legislation to support widows and widowers of our fallen heroes, by allowing them to terminate residential leases without penalty in the wake of the servicemember’s death.
This issue first came to my attention when I met a Gold Star spouse, Kylie Riney, of Farmington, Illinois.
Kylie’s life was forever changed on October 18, 2016 when her husband, Sgt. Douglas Riney, tragically died defending our freedoms in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Kylie and her two young children, James and Elea, were living in Texas at the time due to Sgt. Riney’s assignment to Fort Hood prior to deployment.
Kylie chose to move back to their home state of Illinois to be surrounded by family as they mourned this inconceivable loss.
But in the wake of tragedy, their landlord refused to allow Kylie to terminate the lease she signed with her late husband.
The families of our fallen heroes have already sacrificed far too much, and we should do everything in our power to ensure grieving spouses receive the support they need.
For this reason, I am proud to offer this common sense bipartisan bill , Gold Star Spouses Lease Relief Act, with Congressman Wenstrup.
The current Servicemember Civil Relief Act, protects servicemembers from lease termination fees when they deploy or receive a permanent change of station.
Our legislation narrowly extends residential leasing protections to cover surviving spouses of servicemembers who die in the line of duty.
I can’t think of anything worse than taking advantage of a grieving widow whose spouse made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
I hope we can pass this common sense legislation to ensure this does not happen again.
Thank you, Chairman Arrington and Ranking Member O’Rourke for your consideration in House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.