NORFOLK -- A new bill before Congress could be good news for military women and their families.

The Military Opportunities for Mothers Act (H.R. 4628) would increase the length of maternity leave for women in the military from six to 12 weeks.

Proponents of the bill say the additional six weeks wouldn't burden taxpayers because the time off would be unpaid.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) is a sponsor of the measure. She told colleagues on the House floor, passing this bill would be the right thing to do, bringing the military in line with the federal guidelines for female civilian federal workers under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

'Mothers in the military inevitably face separation from their children when they're deployed and serving our nation around the globe,' she said. 'Extending maternity leave to these women is the least we can do for those who sacrifice so much for our country.'

The bill was introduced last Friday and has been referred to the House Armed Services Committee. The measure has 54 co-sponsors, none from Virginia.

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