Contact: Caroline Tabler or James Arnold (202) 224-2353
December 21, 2019



Senators Cotton, Shaheen, Second Lady Applaud Law Reforming Occupational Licensing for Military Spouses


Washington, D.C. — Yesterday the president signed into law the Portable Certification of Spouses (PCS) Act, legislation U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) included in the 2020 defense bill and introduced at a press conference with Second Lady Karen Pence in May.


Many military spouses struggle to recertify their occupational licenses as they move—on average every two to three years—from state to state. The Portable Certification of Spouses Act will now allow the Defense Department to fund the creation of interstate compacts that will create common, portable credentials for major professions. The law will also help alleviate the burden military spouses bear when having to re-register a small business in a new state each time a service member gets reassigned to a new military installation.


"One-in-three military spouses work in a field that requires an occupational license, and too many of them are forced to re-certify every time they move between states. Military families already shoulder heavy loads for our country—they shouldn't also have to worry about state regulations that prevent wives or husbands from working in their own profession. With our bill now law, those spouses can soon pursue their careers uninterrupted, even while they're moving their family from state to state and base to base,” said Cotton.


“Military families make significant sacrifices on behalf of our country, so if we have the opportunity to make things a little easier for them, we need to seize it,” said Shaheen. “This new law cuts through the red tape hindering military spouses from practicing their professions or restarting their businesses as they move with their families around the country. I’m relieved for military families that this measure is now the law of the land and will work closely with the administration to make sure it is implemented comprehensively. I appreciate the support from members on both sides of the aisle to include this commonsense fix in the defense bill and provide support to military spouses, and I offer my sincerest thanks to our military families for their continued service to our nation.”

“Military spouse employment is an important aspect of a strong and resilient military family,” said Mrs. Pence. “Military spouses make countless sacrifices, and it is the right thing for us to come alongside and do everything we can to enable them to work in their chosen field. I am thrilled the PCS Act is now law and I applaud the bipartisan collaboration to address military spouse employment challenges.”


“The signing of this legislation into law means that military spouses have one less hurdle to maintain their professional careers as they move following their active duty military spouse from base to base,” said Andrea Krull, a small business owner whose husband is in the United States Navy. “This law will allow me to establish my business in one state and maintain that status for the duration of my husband’s military service. It will allow me the opportunity to spend less time navigating administrative red tape and more time serving my clients, and ultimately providing for my family.”




Over 34 percent of military spouses work in fields that require a state license in order to practice. These spouses are often required to recertify and pay to recertify this license every time they move between states with their spouse. Re-certification has become too long, expensive, detrimental to the careers of spouses, and prohibitive financially to military families who could benefit from two household incomes instead of one. This process often effects a service member's desire to stay in the military long-term.

This law will impact spouses working in fields such as health-related occupations and education. 56 percent of licensed military spouses work in health-related occupations and 29 percent in education respectively. The fields which could may benefit from this law include, but are not limited to, the following: teachers, advance practice nurses, physician's assistants, occupational therapists, dentists, dental hygienists, nutritionists, counselors, social workers, veterinarians, cosmetologists, and realtors.


The PCS Act was originally introduced in May 2019 as a stand-alone bill before being included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.