October 10th, 2013
08:29 PM ET
10 months ago

Obama signs military death benefits bill

Updated 10/10/2013 at 8:30pm

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama has signed into law legislation that continues federal funding of death benefits for military families, the White House said on Thursday.

The issue became an emotional political flashpoint because it had been cut during the government shutdown.

The Senate gave final congressional approval to a House-passed measure earlier in the day even though the Obama administration had finalized a plan for a private charity - Fisher House - to cover the cost of benefits until the government shutdown is resolved.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the push by Republicans was "unnecessary" because benefits were again flowing.

"This issue is largely moot. It's clear the action on this legislation is just for show," he said.

Until now, Senate Democrats had refused to take up a series of individual bills the GOP-led House passed to reopen parts of the government, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Administration.

Outside of approving one bill to provide pay for the military, Democrats have insisted Republicans agree to reopen the entire government as opposed to doing it piecemeal.

A spokesman for Reid wouldn't say specifically why the Democratic leader agreed to pass the death benefit bill but he pointed to Reid's comments that the push by Republicans was for "show."

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said he was concerned about legal and other issues that might arise from the special contract the Pentagon made with Fisher House and wanted the fix in law.

He said he hopes the decision by Democrats "paves the way" to take up "some other narrow bills until we can come together on a larger bill."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also said the legislation wasn't needed because of the Fisher House arrangement.

"Our view has been that this piecemeal funding is, again, a gimmick," said Carney.

Spouses and families of service members who die get $100,000 as well as other benefits, such as the cost of burial, travel, and housing.


Filed under: Government Shutdown • Military • Senate
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. ye ole Gunderson

    y keep benefits? ole Gunderson think they not deserve benefits. Founding fathers not ask for benefits, u should pull your self up or get ready to take funny munny, ole Gunderson think others not conservative enough.

    October 10, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    Apparently the GOP like to run government they way they enforce the laws: selectively.

    October 10, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. Winston Smith

    Too little, too late. You (republicans), made your bed, and you're going to lay in it. Never again will you or your ilk, be leaders in my opinion. Your true colors shown, and have shown brightly. You're through.

    October 10, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    OK, now the Democrats are obviously willing to negotiate. What's next in the GOP liars bag of tricks to keep us from ending this dog and pony show?

    October 10, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Wake up People!

    So the party that campaigned on and caused the shutdown, now want to appear to be the saviors of the little people that have been stomped and spit on? What loathsome hypocrites.

    October 10, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    He said he hopes the decision by Democrats "paves the way" to take up "some other narrow bills until we can come together on a larger bill."
    -------------
    What Sen. Cornyn refers to as "narrow bills" are more formally known as appropriations bills. The Tea Party driven House had passed a single appropriations bill all year, which makes this the first government shutdown that did not have at least a few appropriations bills passed. In other words, this is a complete shutdown.

    The Tea Party Republicans are being dishonest by feigning confusion over why the Senate Democrats do not wish to vote on piecemeal appropriations. It is way past time for the smaller appropriations. Everything needs funds appropriated. It is a crisis.

    October 10, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. Sharkmann

    Bit by bit the Repubs will fund the popular things and the things they want. Why do we have minority rule? Money?

    October 10, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. Marie MD

    When the teatards were running for office and telling their extreme right wing crazies that they were going to shut down the government and it was received with applause and cheers did any of these idiots really considered the consequences?
    Never mind, the fact that their hatred surpasses anything ever seen in this country (not necessarily in other less civilized nations and maybe not even there) says it all.
    They shut the government down, they are now blaming our President and twisting the truth. The only thing they are good at doing because they don't do or work on anything else.

    October 10, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. hibeam

    Meanwhile an agonizing scream of despair could be heard emanating from the White House. I could use that money to play golf or go to Africa again.

    October 10, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Clearly Moot...So he doesn't care if it had passed or not. Would rather see the buck passed to a private organization who stepped up in their idiocy

    October 10, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  11. bam

    open everything and stop the crying fest....
    A whole box of Shamwow couldnt hold the tears from one eye of boehner

    October 10, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    ye ole Gunderson

    y keep benefits? ole Gunderson think they not deserve benefits. Founding fathers not ask for benefits, u should pull your self up or get ready to take funny munny, ole Gunderson think others not conservative enough.
    ------------------–
    Textbook display of the neo-libertarian mindset. "You're on your own," taken to the extreme.

    Every life insurance policy that I am familiar with does not pay death benefits when you die as a result of an act of war. If you want a volunteer military, then you must provide life insurance for the members because private indusry isn't going to cover it. Who in their right mind would want to volunteer to go fight in a war and die, knowing that if were to be killed then your family is just plain S.O.L?

    Who would volunteer for such a raw deal? I don't know, but I know that the neo-libertarians won't be signing up, death benefit or not.

    October 10, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. mrl

    obama should not have cut them to begin with...

    October 10, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. ShawnDH

    Great...now what about the millions of other Americans who are being hurt by the GOP shutdown?

    The GOP needs to re-open the government and not just the parts that look the worst in their shutdown.

    October 10, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  15. MJ

    Now the question is why didn't the Senate pass earlier legislation the House sent up to do the same thing? Could it have been because they weren't feeling the heat from the public yet?

    October 10, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  16. Wake up People!

    Hey Rudy, that's somebody mocking Gunderson.

    October 10, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  17. Ed

    This should NEVER have been an issue with our...ah.....with.....our forward looking politicians ! Tough to get that out ! I say, come November, we forget about THEM as they have forgotten about our bravest !

    October 10, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  18. JLM

    Can't wait to tell you all "I told you so" when the country is bankrupt and there are riots in the streets because there is no more money for "free stuff". It may take 10 years but it will come. Hope you all are saving for your future, I have been because I don't depend on goverment to take care of me.

    October 10, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  19. ASH

    You have to wonder if it wasn't for the public outcry if this would have happened. I guess we should be happy they put an end to the screwing over of our military heroes' but that it occurred in the first place is disgusting.

    October 10, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  20. Payme First

    We need LESS government not more, so funding only essential programs should be done first and if there is money left over, fund some nice to haves.

    October 10, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  21. chales

    Like I always said, Ted Cruz is the greatest plant by the Democratic party in a long time. TRUST ME HE IS A PLANT!!!!

    October 10, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  22. Kuron

    Too funny... the Republicans say the private sector should be more involved; when Obama does that, one of Obama's biggest foes said the government should be involved. I see this exactly the same as the "Faith-Based Charity Program" that W came up with to give tax dollars to charity. The charities are just paying upfront.

    October 10, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  23. Jake

    The Real Tom Paine

    Apparently the GOP like to run government they way they enforce the laws: selectively.

    That's the same thing they did with Obamacare, selectively gave concessions.....oh wait a minute

    October 10, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  24. Gurgyl

    Obamacare should be funded first.

    October 10, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. bill

    Why did it take a GOP senate member had to ask for a vote on this.. Why was it not voted on yesterday its it passed 400+ yes votes to (0 no votes)... This should have been done yesterday. Mr Hagel was talking to a none profit to pay for this.... But he knew that the house would pass the bill.... But instead of talking with the senate to have a vote ASAP/yesterday vote... He was talking with the none profit instead. Cnn I hope you will look into why all of this happen... And why Mr Reid and Mr Hagel were not on top of this for the love of GOD ask some people why?????

    October 10, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
1 2 3