A proposal Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) have been pushing for more than a year to help reservists and their employers with the financial strain of lengthy and repeated deployments moved forward in the Senate today.

The Landrieu-Kerry Amendment carves a $1.2 billion fund for reservists and small business owners out of the $70 billion tax cut in the president's budget. The amendment will help employers of Guard and Reservists make up the difference between their military and civilian pay. Small businesses will be eligible for an additional tax credit for wages they pay to temporary workers hired to fill in for Guard or Reservists, so they can have their jobs back when they return home.

The General Accounting Office estimates that 41 percent of reservists' incomes decrease when they are called to active duty.

“The American people will choose tax relief for reservists over tax giveaways for millionaires any day. I am glad Congress rejected short-sighted budget priorities and instead decided to stand up for our nation's military families. Mary Landrieu and I have fought a long time to make this tax relief a reality, and at last in a time of war Washington has responded to the economic struggles of so many reservists serving our country,” said Kerry, Ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

“This is the first victory in a larger battle. When we return in April and the emergency war supplemental comes to the floor, I will fight to pass as much of my Military Family Bill of Rights as possible. It's easy to talk about supporting the troops, now we're going to challenge Washington to support the troops where it counts by providing a real Military Family's Bill of Rights.

“Today's victory matters to families sacrificing for the country they love. Too often, our troops must surrender a part of their income to serve, and too often, small businesses struggle to absorb the loss of an employee. The Landrieu-Kerry plan helps our citizen soldiers, their families and their employers make ends meet. It allows them to rest assured that when they return from Iraq and Afghanistan, their homes and their jobs will be waiting for them. Too much about this budget leaves our nation’s military families behind, so this is one important step in the right direction,” Kerry added.

The Landrieu-Kerry amendment provides a tax credit of up to $15,000 per employee to all American businesses that supplement the income of a reservist employee that has been called up to active duty. For small businesses, the legislation also provides a credit of up to $6,000 per employee to assist with the hiring of a temporary replacement for each reservist employee on active duty, and for small manufacturers, this credit limit is $10,000.

The amendment is based on Sen. Kerry’s Military Family Bill of Rights (S.460) and Reservist Tax Credit Act (S.240), and Sen. Landrieu’s previous Reservists and Guardsmen Pay Protection Act from last Congress (S.442).