The Obama administration has hit a new low during the government shutdown, withholding death benefits for families whose loved-ones died for our country.
Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Defense Department spokesman confirmed Tuesday that as long as the partial government shutdown lasts, it will not be able to pay death benefits to the families of troops who’ve been killed in combat.
“Unfortunately, as a result of the shutdown, we do not have the legal authority to make death gratuity payments at this time,” he said. “However, we are keeping a close eye on those survivors who have lost loved ones serving in the Department of Defense.”
House lawmakers, however, are planning to vote Wednesday on a bill to restore death benefit funding, and Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday accused the Obama administration of needlessly withholding their money.
Boehner said a bill passed by Congress and signed by the president last week to pay America’s troops already gave the Pentagon the ability “to pay all kinds of bills, including this.”
“I think it’s disgraceful that they’re withholding these benefits,” Boehner said, urging Obama to sign the bill that the House will take up on Wednesday.
The bill would still have to pass the Harry Reid’s Senate before it can even make it on Obama’s desk. If that bill fails to pass because Harry Reid tables it, families will be reimbursed once Congress passes an appropriations bill.
The Pentagon says it has specific instructions from the Office of Management and Budget, or the OMB, to not make the payments for deaths that occurred after 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2013.
Over the weekend, four soldiers — two Army Rangers and one Marine — were killed while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. The bodies of the four soldiers will be returned to Dover Air Force Base on Wednesday.
Due to the partial government shutdown, the families of 25-year-old 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno; 24-year-old Pfc. Cody J. Patterson; 24-year-old Special Agent Joseph M. Peters; 25-year-old Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins; and 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Jeremiah M. Collins, Jr. will not receive the $100,000 payment that they would have otherwise received within three days of the death, all because Obama has tyrannically chosen to make the pain of the partial shutdown unnecessarily severe.
Adding further insult, the families will have to pay for their own travel to Dover to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones, which is a bill the Pentagon also says it won’t pay because of the orders the OMB has given under the partial shutdown.
However, in private Defense Department officials say they wish they could pay the families and they admit it’s a disgrace that deserves national attention.
“If the department was allowed to make death gratuity payments at any point during shutdown, they would’ve been paid with great relief,” one official told Fox News.
Pentagon officials also say Congress was warned prior to the shutdown that these benefits would be stopped.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said during a press conference on Tuesday he would tell those families that their government “let them down.”
After the ceremony at Dover on Wednesday, the families will fly to their home states to conduct private funerals. That’s also an expense the Pentagon says it can no longer pay due to the stalemate.