WISCONSINREPORT.COM (10/01/08) - U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) announced today that Congress has passed legislation based on a provision he authored allowing servicemembers deployed overseas to terminate cell phone contracts free of penalties. The Feingold measure, which passed as part of the Veterans’ Benefits Enhancement Act, will expand the rights servicemembers already have to terminate similar contracts like residential and automobile leases without penalty. The measure now heads to the President for his signature.
Feingold introduced the Servicemembers’ Cellular Phone Contract Fairness Act in 2006 after learning Wisconsin servicemembers were being forced to pay early termination fees or pay for a service they could not use when they were transferred overseas.
“By passing this measure, we will ease the financial burden on our troops by helping them avoid cell phone termination fees when they are called upon to serve our country,” Feingold said.
"Our military families already face many difficult financial challenges when a loved one is serving far from home. While we can never fully repay our men and women in uniform for their service and sacrifice, modest measures like this one can make life a little easier," Senator Feingold said.
"I urge the President to support this legislation that will help our military families during times when they are already under enormous strain," said Feingold.
Two years ago, First Lieutenant Melissa Inlow of the Wisconsin Army National Guard testified at a hearing in the Wisconsin State Assembly on the need for similar legislation.
"It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get cell phone service providers to suspend the contract," First Lietenant Melissa Inlow said.
"Even with suspension the soldiers are still paying up to $25 a month for a service they cannot reap the benefits of," Inlow said.
"These fees can accumulate to more than the termination fee which on average is $200," she Inlow out.
Feingold worked for two years to pass the Servicemembers’ Cellular Phone Contract Fair Act. The provision is part of Feingold’s larger effort to ensure our troops get the support and benefits they deserve.
Feingold’s measure is supported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the National Guard Association of the United States, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, and the Military Officers Association of America.