Legislators make plan to renew death benefits - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Legislators make plan to renew death benefits


Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate expressed their outrage over the Pentagon's freeze of military death benefits Tuesday. Now they are developing a plan to make sure military families receive payments.

The Pentagon typically pays out $100,000 to families of United States soldiers killed in action within three days of their death, but the government shutdown means there is no authority to pay the money.

The lack of payment has made it increasingly difficult for military families to make service arrangements. It has also prevented families from going to Dover Air Force Base where bodies of fallen soldiers are returned to the States.

Pentagon officials are adamant that they need a legislative fix to get the benefits paid. Some lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner, said this should not be an issue because of a recently passed bill in Congress.

"Last week, the Congress passed the Pay Our Military Benefits Act," he said. "We gave broad authority to the Department of Defense to pay all kinds of bills, including this. And, frankly, I think it's disgraceful that they're withholding these benefits."

Congress is expected to meet to deal with the issue Wednesday though Senate Democrats have been hesitant to pass piecemeal legislation versus reopening the entire government.

The bill would still have to pass the Senate before arriving on President Obama's desk. If the bill fails, the Pentagon says families will be reimbursed once Congress can pass an appropriations bill.

In the meantime, several corporations and organizations that support military families have quietly stepped forward and are offering financial support to families in their time of grief.

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