WASHINGTON (AP) — Families of fallen troops will be assured of receiving death benefits under legislation President Barack Obama signed Thursday amid a national firestorm after the Pentagon suspended the roughly $100,000 payments during the partial government shutdown.
Obama signed the bill into law after it won final passage in the Senate earlier in the day.
But his chief spokesman, Jay Carney, had said the measure was unnecessary because a military charity had stepped in to continue the payments. Carney also had declined to say whether Obama would sign the bill, which reinstates benefits for surviving family members, including funeral and burial expenses, and death gratuity payments.
The Pentagon typically pays out $100,000 within three days of a service member’s death. It said 29 active-duty service members have died since Oct. 1, when parts of the government shut down in a dispute between the White House and Congress over the president’s health care law.
The Pentagon had said the lapse in funding meant it had no authority to continue the payments, but that explanation that did not sit well with members of Congress in either party. The Pentagon said a law allowing members of the military to be paid during the shutdown did not cover the death benefit payments. Congress passed and Obama signed that measure into law before the shutdown began, and lawmakers insisted the benefits shouldn’t have been affected.
In stepped the Fisher House Foundation, which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday would cover the costs during the shutdown. Hagel said the Pentagon would reimburse the foundation after the shutdown ends. The government could not actively solicit funds from private organizations but could accept an offer.
The administration said Thursday night that the Pentagon’s agreement with Fisher House would remain intact to make sure the benefits are delivered without further interruption until officials can get the program up and running again.
The bill is the second “piecemeal” measure Obama has signed to hold the military harmless during the shutdown. At the same time, the White House has threatened vetoes of other “piecemeal” measures passed by the Republican-controlled House to continue funding for certain government operations. The White House has said the House should reopen the entire government and not choose to fund some agencies and programs over others.
Obama also supports House-passed legislation to provide back pay for thousands of federal workers forced off the job because of the shutdown.
Across the Capitol, Republicans on a House Armed Services panel excoriated Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale, accusing him of playing politics with his interpretation of the original law. They said the law was designed to pay the death benefits as well as keep all Defense Department civilians on the job — not to select the most essential.
“You went out of your way to make this as ugly as possible, to inflict as much pain as possible on this department,” said Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., who introduced the first bill days before the shutdown in an attempt to exempt the military.
Hale responded that the law was poorly written and there never should have been a shutdown in the first place.
“I resent your remarks,” the budget chief said. “I acted on the advice of attorneys and our best reading of a loosely worded law.”
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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