U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus, and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., introduced the bipartisan Military Spouse Entrepreneurship Act of 2023.
This legislation would direct the Small Business Administration to develop a training program to help military spouses start, develop, and operate their own small businesses.
According to a 2022 U.S. Chamber of Commerce report , military spouses face an employment rate of 22%, making them one of the highest unemployed demographics in the nation.
“Military spouses make huge sacrifices to support our troops, and we must work to support their unique economic needs,” said Klobuchar in a news release. “Our bipartisan legislation would help ensure that military spouses have the right tools and training to establish their own small businesses and become entrepreneurs.”
The bill has received the support of the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs, the Center for American Entrepreneurship, Instant Teams, VetsinTech, and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.
“Entrepreneurship is the driving force of economic growth and job creation in America, and also a gateway to economic opportunity and financial security for military spouses,” said John Dearie, president of the Center for American Entrepreneurship. “And yet military spouse entrepreneurs face unique barriers and challenges that can lead to frustration and resentment which, ultimately, can undermine military retention and readiness. The Enhancing Military Spouse Entrepreneurship Act provides access to support and resources that military spouse entrepreneurs need and deserve.”
The Center for American Entrepreneurship and the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs thanked Klobuchar and Tillis for their leadership on behalf of military spouse entrepreneurs and looks forward to working with their Senate and House colleagues to see the bill swiftly enacted into law.”
“Military spouses make a unique contribution to the nation and entrepreneurship is a powerful pathway to their economic and personal empowerment,” said Monika Jefferson, founder and chief executive officer of the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs. “The Enhancing Military Spouse Entrepreneurship Act will dramatically improve the lives of military spouse entrepreneurs, improve the economic security of military families, and, therefore, contribute importantly to enhancing America’s military readiness.”
“We applaud the leadership of Senator Klobuchar and Senator Tillis for acting to provide critically needed resources to military spouses to better enable them to start companies and become entrepreneurs,” said Erica McMannes, co-founder of Instant Teams. “As trailblazers and industry leaders in connecting military spouses with opportunity we know first hand about the many challenges confronting military spouses who wish to start businesses and begin careers— this legislation will provide real support to our military families and in so doing will not only strengthen our military but also our national economy.”
Klobuchar has long worked to support military families, servicemembers, and veterans.
In April, Klobuchar and Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Steve Daines, R-Mont., introduced the Servicemembers’ Credit Monitoring Enhancement Act, bipartisan legislation to provide free credit monitoring for all servicemembers and their families. Currently, only active duty servicemembers and members of the National Guard are eligible for free credit monitoring services.
Last year, Klobuchar worked to successfully pass the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act, historic legislation that will deliver comprehensive relief to all generations of veterans who were exposed to toxins for the first time in our nation’s history. The legislation, signed into law last August, included Klobuchar and Senator Mike Crapo's (R-Idaho) Toxic Exposure Training Act, a bipartisan bill to improve education and training for Department of Veterans Affairs health care personnel to treat illnesses related to exposure to burn pits and other toxic substances.
Additionally, Klobuchar’s office reported she recently introduced legislation to expand access to colorectal cancer screenings for toxic-exposed service members. The Barbosa Act, named after former Army Captain Rafael Barbosa, would authorize the Department of Defense to provide service members who have been exposed to burn pits or other toxins with preventive colorectal screenings. Under the PACT Act, the Department of Veterans Affairs now considers any gastrointestinal cancer as “presumptive'' or caused by service and exposure to burn pits.
As a member of the National Guard Caucus, Klobuchar has been steadfast in her support of the Minnesota National Guard members. She worked to create a position on the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the National Guard and Reserves as well as improve federal-state military coordination in domestic emergency response scenarios.
Klobuchar fought to secure regular funding to extend and expand to the national level Minnesota’s pioneering Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides community support to Guard members and their families throughout the deployment cycle.