House Republicans just dealt a devastating blow to war widows

On Veteran’s Day, Republicans are the party who want to do all they can to help those who served in America’s armed forces and their families, but when it comes to actually voting to provide military widows a benefit they deserve to have, things are different. 

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky) discovered that today and is voicing his anger because Republicans voted against his plan to eliminate the “military widow’s tax.”

Yarmuth was one of the sponsors of a bill to fix what he calls “an egregious penalty that prevents approximately 64,000 surviving military spouses from receiving full death benefits.”

This is wonky, but here is what this was about.

Under the current law, family of fallen military members lose part or all of their Defense Department Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) when they also receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

As one constituent wrote to Yarmuth, it reduces the surviving spouse’s benefits by an average of $1,250 a month or about $15,000 annually.

Today Yarmuth tried to get the amendment through the House Budget Committee where it lost on a vote of 18 to 14 with all the Democrats and three Republicans voting for it. 

All the other no votes were the majority Republicans on the committee.

The Republicans may love vets but they probably didn’t like Yarmuth’s plan to “offset” the cost, which is political speak for how to pay for it.

He wanted to reduce the tax break Trump passed last December, which helps only the wealthiest Americans. Yarmuth’s plan would have taken one percent back from the corporations that benefited from the overhaul. 

Unsurprisingly, Republicans sided with corporations over veterans. “The fact that they could not bring themselves to set aside less than 1 percent of the trillions of dollars in tax cuts they just gave to millionaires and big corporations to protect survivors of military service members is a disgrace,” Yarmuth wrote on Thursday.


Yarmuth is a rare Democrat in Kentucky, which has become a very red state. He rose to his position by working hard to serve his community and his constituents but on this day, the red tide one again washed away his dreams and those of military widows everywhere.

It would be nice if some of those Kentucky voters still remember that in November.

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.