Washington, DC – With Honor Action continues to focus on four major areas of legislation as we head into 2024: national security, national service, military quality-of-life, and countering the Chinese Communist Party. These four areas are critical as we look to strengthen our national security, support our military, and create a more united nation at home. With Honor Action is excited to roll out our first legislative endorsements of the year that tackle these significant issues:
Supporting Our Afghan Allies
- Following the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, tens of thousands of Afghans whose support of American troops put their lives in grave danger were evacuated to the United States and granted temporary residency via humanitarian parole. Unfortunately, this is only a temporary solution that prevents these refugees from being able to move forward with their lives. The only pathways to lawful, permanent residency are claiming asylum and the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, neither of which were designed to respond to a crisis of this scale, and both of which are plagued by backlogs of thousands of cases.
- Legislation to adjust the immigration status of these Afghans, such as the Afghan Adjustment Act, would provide them with the opportunity to apply for permanent legal residence, expand eligibility in the SIV program, and provide additional vetting to address any national security concerns. In April of last year, the State Department estimated that we left behind over 152,000 allies. To help them escape the perils of Taliban rule and ensure America keeps her word, the Afghan Allies Protection Act would authorize an additional 20,000 SIVs to those remaining in Afghanistan and neighboring countries.
- Our Afghan allies stood beside us in our longest war and it is well past time that we uphold our promise to take care of them. The world is watching and our sacred national honor is at stake.
Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Tax Relief Act
- Unlike most service-connected scholarships, including Pell Grants and education benefits from the GI bill, stipends paid to AmeriCorps volunteers are subject to federal income tax, penalizing Americans who choose to pursue public service through AmeriCorps. This bill would remove the income tax on the education award granted to AmeriCorps service members, following states like Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa, which have passed laws to exclude the AmeriCorps education awards from state income tax.
Military Food Security Act of 2023
- Rep. Bacon notes in his opening comments in the video below that at least 15% of our military are currently considered “food insecure” and lack consistent access to nutritious meals for themselves and their families. Bipartisan legislation we are championing to fix this issue includes the Military Food Security Act led by Reps. Bacon and Jimmy Panetta, who together also founded the For Country Caucus 4 years ago. This bill would increase benefits to an estimated 27,000 service members and their families who are currently struggling.
- The video can be viewed here.
The Five AIs Act
- The bipartisan bill would direct the Secretary of Defense to establish a working group to develop and coordinate an artificial intelligence initiative within the Five Eyes framework, America’s closest and strongest intelligence alliance between the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada. The Chinese government is rapidly expanding their AI capabilities and we need to be prepared to counter any threats they may throw at us and our allies. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Mike Gallagher, a member of the For Country Caucus and chairman of the Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.
“We had a busy year in 2023 and we don’t plan on slowing down. We managed to get 63 of our priorities in last year’s defense bill, and we hope to use that momentum to keep affecting real, bipartisan change in Congress,” said Rye Barcott, Co-Founder and CEO of With Honor Action. “Our organization looks forward to a year of improving national security, expanding national service, helping service members and their families, and countering the Chinese Communist Party.”
With Honor Action remains committed to our goal of advancing principled veteran leadership in Congress. The priorities and endorsements outlined above are bipartisan solutions to real problems we face as a nation, and we strongly encourage lawmakers to consider them for passage.