October 27, 2021

Rep. Mike Levin Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Address Servicemembers’ Personal Financial Losses Following Stop Movement Orders

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation with Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) to allow servicemembers and their families to terminate telephone, cable, and internet service contracts if they receive military orders for a permanent change of station (PCS) but then receive a stop movement order due to an emergency situation like the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Relief for Servicemembers Act was also introduced by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND).

Some military families have suffered personal financial losses after entering telephone, cable, or internet service contracts for their PCS move but then receiving a stop movement order from the Department of Defense, forcing them to pay for services in two locations – one for their current duty station and another at their intended PCS location. Rep. Levin’s legislation amends the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to allow servicemembers to terminate a telecommunications contract without penalty upon receiving a PCS order followed by a stop movement order.

Rep. Levin secured language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 that matches his Emergency Relief for Servicemembers Act. He also had legislation signed into law last year that allows servicemembers to terminate residential leases following a stop movement order made by the Department of Defense in response to a local, national, or global emergency.

“Military families make incredible personal sacrifices moving from one base to another, particularly when sudden stop movement orders interrupt those plans. The last thing they should be stuck with is an extra cable, phone, or internet bill for a place where they don’t even live,” said Rep. Levin. “We must do right by our servicemembers and make sure they aren’t placed in that situation by passing the Emergency Relief for Servicemembers Act. I’m optimistic we can advance this important bipartisan bill soon on behalf of all military families.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic caused many military families to halt their planned moves on military orders. This resulted in an unforeseen burden that left many families trapped in two telecommunications contracts,” said Rep. Garcia. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill that would fix an issue brought to light by the COVID-19 Pandemic. It would amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to allow servicemembers to terminate phone, cable, and internet contracts if a disaster prevents a scheduled move order. This is a small but meaningful fix that would make life a little easier for the men and women in uniform that protect this country. I’m grateful to work with Congressman Levin and Senators Cramer and Hassan on this important legislation and I hope it quickly moves to the President’s desk.”

“Military families with orders to PCS when this pandemic started were caught short - they left jobs, canceled services and homes at the losing locations, they found new homes and established internet at the gaining locations. But DoD’s stop movement order left them financially vulnerable: mid-move,” said Kelly Hruska, Government Relations Director for the National Military Family Association. “We appreciate Congress acting quickly to correct the housing issues. This legislation will address the telecom and internet issues not currently covered by SCRA. The National Military Family Association is appreciative that Congress is pursuing a solution to ensure that going forward, military families don’t face this type of hardship in response to a local, national, or global emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.”

"The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented strains on our Armed Forces' service members and their dependents,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, Founder and CEO of Blue Star Families. “Blue Star Families' 2020 CMSI Pain Points Poll found that families PCSing faced increased out-of-pocket expenses and financial instability due to the stop movement orders issued in March 2020. Like the lease protections passed last year, the extension of telecommunication-related protections will promote military families' financial readiness amid the ongoing challenges of the pandemic."