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. Marti

    All the Repubicans have to do is fight the fights worth fighting.

    October 10, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  2. ED1

    This is just stupid it should have never stopped.

    Looks like all the Obama people want to do is keep stirring the pot to keep this Country divided and they are doing a really good job so far.

    I hope the House continues to do what they were elected to do stop the absurd overspending on bills that will make our taxes go up and our debt up too.

    October 10, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  3. Richard Long

    Obama Sequester tactics:
    1. Make it as publicly painful as possible
    2. Attack the military
    – he's killed education programs for the military
    – he's gone after military priests/chaplins
    – went after their death benefits
    3. Disrespects US citizens
    – closes the National Mall to US citizens and veterans, but allows illegal immigrants to protest in the closed National Mall
    – Donated $7 billion to Africa during the Obama Sequester
    – Donated $450 million to the Muslim BroHood in Egypt during the Obama Sequester

    October 10, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. Paul Nyman

    Now these are the comments I'm used to seeing on liberal CNN. Democrats are like wife's and Republicans are like the husband. It's always the husbands fault no matter how obvious.

    October 10, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  5. steve willis

    the senate dems are a mockery of any common decency, just do your jobs, and quit turning down everything the republicans send over, your a joke. give me my money back, and get another job.

    October 10, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. Tony

    Thank you. Let's keep this going by passing other important legislation, one at a time if necessary, to get parks open, federals workers back to work, etc.

    October 10, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. spudsy

    Funny how the Obama administration is taking credit for something the Fisher House already did and the PENTAGON set up. Do not give credit to the DICtator. He did not do this nor did his people. Just like the DICtator did not do anything in getting Osama except watch TV and play cards.

    October 10, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. angel

    piecemeal approach :) Will Obama ? :)

    October 10, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Ishmael Finn

    No politician in his right mind would turn their backs on Veterans and their families in a time of war. Bill approval in the House and Senate was to be expected as it is certainly deserved.

    October 10, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  10. freedom

    The president's neglect in taking care of this first speaks volumes.

    October 10, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  11. Kude

    interesting. No picking and choosing when it's about kids with cancer. Wake up and smell the double standard Harry Ried supporters.

    October 10, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  12. teabeggars

    Screw the tea party retards. They will learn their lesson soon, but it will be too late for them. l appeal to any reasonable Republican who has the cohones to stand up to those retards kick them out of your party. Save the Republican Party for God Sake....

    October 10, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. Wake up People!

    The trolls are in the house!!

    October 10, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  14. VB

    sweet jesus. you people inhabit a completely different universe than the rest of us. obama attacking the military? going after chaplains? completely unhinged.

    its almost as if, somehow, when you shut down the government, the government stops functioning. crazy, right?

    October 10, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  15. Hmmm

    Lets take care of the living now!

    October 10, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  16. Tony

    Republican drama sucks.

    October 10, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  17. Angie

    This entire ordeal is so embarrasing. The leaders of our country are a disgrace to the American people and the government.

    October 10, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  18. Janelle

    So now the government is going to pick and choose what to restore. I'm all about giving military their benefits but there are also living people that need to eat. This is a circus.

    October 10, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. Erocks

    Was that so hard. Something both sides of the house agreed on unanimously. Why the senate hesitated to pass it is beyond me. And sorry Mr Reid. Relying on a private company to do something you have a bill for is stupid

    October 10, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  20. John

    Now if Reid and Obama will sign the rest of the 50 bills the house has sent them and give up this idea Obama rules the world we can all move the hell on.

    October 10, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. HallLadyk

    It would be nice if Congress opens up the government so that federal workers who is currently on the job can get a paycheck. That would be very nice.

    October 10, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  22. Data Driven

    UH oh, simultaneously uploaded to the Main Politics page again, I see - hence the more-than-usually idiotic comments from supporters of the "tea party" rebellion against the United States.

    October 10, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  23. disqus_m4RzRjSnrs

    And it took the House to show to the Senate what they should do. After all, men are dying so the fat cats in DC can wave a magic wand. Oh, we who are posting here -safe and sound-should be pleased that we are willing to bury our dead.

    October 10, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    -freedom

    The president's neglect in taking care of this first speaks volumes.
    ******************
    Funny, never heard a peep out of the Righties until the vets rushed the memorial: maybe you did not think that this would affect real people?

    October 10, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  25. kris

    And Obummer just vetoed it............

    October 10, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
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