Malliotakis Leads Bipartisan Group in Calling on POTUS to Designate Kenya A Combat Zone, Lift Taxes on New York National Guardsmen
(WASHINGTON, DC) – Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (NY-21) and Congresswoman Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06) led a bipartisan letter to President Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin calling on the Administration to formally designate Kenya a combat zone to allow a group of New York National Guardsmen stationed in the region as part of Task Force Wolfhound to receive Combat Zone Tax Exclusions (CZTE).
Task Force Wolfhound is operating in the countries of Djibouti, Somalia, and Kenya. While both Djibouti and Somalia carry the Department of Defense designation as a combat zone which qualifies military personnel assigned to these countries to CZTE, Kenya does not have this designation. This means Soldiers facing the same regional threats as their peers are not eligible to receive the federal, state, or local income tax-exempt status as other members of the task force.
“For Djibouti and Somalia to be designated as combat zones, while Kenya, a nation plagued by terror attacks on behalf of the Al-Shabaab militant group is not, is placing New York’s National Guard Soldiers in harm’s way and allowing them to be taxed on the income that they receive while defending American freedom and values,” the members wrote. “The U.S. Department of State fully prohibits U.S. government employees from traveling to sections of Kenya due to the level of concern for terrorist attacks. If the United States can prohibit our government employees from traveling to these regions due to the dangers associated with the area, how is this same area not recognized as a combat zone for our military personnel?”
A prime example of the terrorist threat in the region is the January 5th, 2020, attack at the Cooperative Security Location in Manda Bay, Kenya. According to the Department of Defense, Al-Shabaab militants conducted an attack in which “killed one U.S. Army Soldier, Specialist Henry J. Mayfield, and two U.S. contract personnel, Bruce Triplett and Dustin Harrison. The attack also wounded three additional U.S. personnel, one Kenyan soldier, and destroyed $71.5 million of U.S. government resources.”
The members concluded: “After having given so much to the United States, American service members should not have to pay the United States government for being placed in harm’s way. We urge your Administration to formally designate Kenya a combat zone to ensure our service members are eligible for the CZTE and the benefits they deserve.”
Download a copy of the letter HERE.
Banner Image: Military members. Image Credit – Scandinavian Backlash