Senator Tom Cotton Secures Occupational Licensing Reform for Military Spouses

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) spoke on the Senate floor celebrating the passage of the Portable Certification of Spouses Act in this year’s defense bill. Senator Cotton introduced the legislation with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) in May.

Many military spouses struggle to recertify their occupational licenses as they move from state to state. The Portable Certification of Spouses Act allows the Defense Department to fund the creation of interstate compacts that will create common, portable credentials for major professions. You can watch Cotton’s speech here. The full text as delivered may be found below.

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act includes many valuable reforms. One such reform is the PCS Act—legislation I introduced with Senator Shaheen—that helps military spouses keep their occupational license, even when they’re on the move across state lines.

 One-in-three military spouses work in a field that requires an occupational license, and too many are forced to re-certify every time they move between states—that can be very often. Most military families move every two to three years, and when each move requires an expensive, time-consuming re-certification process, many military spouses might as well kiss their jobs goodbye.

 These occupational licenses are a costly burden for military families who already sacrifice so much for our country. Our PCS Act will alleviate this burden by empowering the Department of Defense and the states to negotiate interstate compacts for occupational licenses in fields where military spouses often work.

 These compacts, made possible by our bill, will ensure that military spouses can pursue their careers uninterrupted, even while they’re moving their family from state to state and base to base.

 More important, the PCS Act will allow military families to focus on their mission, which is to protect and serve our country with honor.