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Senators Hassan, Ernst Secure NDAA Passage of Bill to End “Pink Tax” on Women’s Military Uniforms

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Fiscal Year 2022, which includes Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) bill to address gender inequity in the military. The bipartisan legislation would reduce out-of-pocket costs for military uniforms for all service members and would help address the cost disparity for women service members, who often pay more for uniform items.


The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that women paid more in out-of-pockets costs for their required uniforms than their male counterparts – amounting to what is essentially a “pink tax” in the United States military. The GAO study also found that while all branches of the military provide an annual clothing allowance for uniform items, some items in certain branches are not eligible for reimbursements and can rake up costs for both male and female service members.


“Our military represent our country’s values, and it is absurd that in 2021, women are still paying more than men for their uniform while they bravely serve our country,” said Senator Hassan. “This is a pink tax, plain and simple, and one that has no place in our military - or anywhere in American society. It’s been an honor to work with Senator Ernst to address this disparity and ensure our military remains the standard bearer of the American values of freedom, equality, and justice.”


 “Our female servicemembers should not be forced to dole out more money for military uniforms compared to their male counterparts. As the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate, I was extraordinarily proud to help pass this bipartisan effort with Senator Hassan that will reduce out-of-pocket costs for military uniforms and remove hurdles for women selflessly serving our great nation” said Senator Joni Ernst, a former company commander who served in the Armed Forces for over 23 years.  


Organizations in support of the effort include the TREA: The Enlisted Association, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), Combined Arms, Fleet Reserve Association, United States Army Warrant Officers Association, The Independence Fund, National Defense Committee, Secure Family Initiatives (SFI), Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC®), and Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.


The Military Forces Assuring that Treatment of Items by Gender are Uniform and Equal across the Services (FATIGUES) Act of 2021 would direct the Department of Defense to implement the recommendations included in the GAO report to reduce cost disparities in uniforms for men and women. The bipartisan legislation would:


  • Require the Department of Defense to develop consistent criteria for determining which uniform items are considered “uniquely military,” so as to reduce differences in out-of-pocket uniform costs across services and by gender.
  • Require the Department of Defense to review each services plans for any uniform change including determining potential out-of-pocket expenses among the services or between genders.
  • Require a report from the Department of Defense that identifies the retail costs of all military clothing items for officer and enlisted and the cost for both male and female clothing items across the services.


This bill builds on Senator Hassan’s efforts to address long standing gender inequities in the military. Last year, following a push from Senator Hassan, the United States Military Academy at West Point announced that its next class of female cadets will have the opportunity to be issued better-fitting Army Combat Uniforms (ACUs) – reversing a policy that provided only unisex uniforms to incoming West Point cadets.