October 10th, 2013
08:29 PM ET
9 years 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. Sniffit

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

    Your delusion that POTUS can do anything about it unless and until Congress actually authorizes the spending speaks volumes.

    October 10, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Wake up People!

    Hey Rudy, that's somebody mocking Gunderson.
    Yeah, I suspected as much. I'm pretty sure that our roaming imposters is actually just a single person, and that that person is a neo-Libertarian.

    October 10, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    The functional illiteracy with respect to the manner in which the budget and funding of the gov't works is pretty astounding...and on full display here every single day. Go take a civics class, Teatrolls.

    October 10, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. Mike McLoughlin

    This should have been expected. After dealing with several with several "piece part" bills from republicans yesterday that would have created many problems due to not including related legislation that were not included in these stupid partial replacements, and knowing that a temporary contract with Foster House had been signed, the Democrats deserved a break from all the republican the stupidity. I fully expected this to come up today and be passed just like the bill refunding the active military. I also would expect that the lapse of the death bernefits was probably due to a missing element of the refunding of the active military bill.

    October 10, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. Sniffit

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

    And that's the case in point: Teatrolls haven't the slightest idea how the budget and funding the gov't works.

    October 10, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. don in albuquerque

    For all people on this post who seem to embrace stupidity as a moral value-The POTUS cannot shut the country down. However the Speaker of the House can, and did. This POTUS is finallly standing up to the right wing maggots, and they don't like it. Boehner and the Tea Party own this. They bought it, and now they need to claim it, as well as all aspects of it from kids with cancer too military death benefits.

    October 10, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. bill

    Should Hagel step down??????????????????? I think so how about you?????

    October 10, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. loyalright

    It's funny when Obama is forced to do the right thing. I'm sure it hurts his pride to help our military and their families.

    October 10, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. Weazle23

    Too little too late!! The damage has already been done to those families and having the Fisher House step up is not an acceptable solution!! VOTE THEM ALL OUT NEXT ELECTION!!

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


    I guess the American people were finally heard, for once. This president only responds when his approval ratings decrease. His ethics are severely lacking – and he has no respect for the American military and their families. More decisions that citizens live by should be voted on state by state. Not mandated by the federal government, or a dictatorial president.
    DING DING DING!!!!!! And the booby prize for sedition goes to the ironically named Freedm, who would make damn sure you would have none in his version of paradise. Must be wonderful to keep beating the gong first rung by John C Calhoun when he used state's rights to defend slavery, calling it " a positive good". All the state's right's nonsense that informs the Far Right's views on state's rights is based in Calhoun's defense of chattel slavery. Of course, we could all get Wal-Mart jobs and live like so many people do in TX, forever in debt and too tired to fight.

    October 10, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @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

    Let's see, who is this really? Rick McDaniel? Fair is Fair? There really can't be another person as wrong as them posting here!

    October 10, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  12. Bolthead


    It's certainly good to see that our fallen heroes will be treated at least as well as the illegal immigrants demanding amnesty while enjoying a concert at the "closed" DC mall.

    Well done, Harry!

    October 10, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. Sorry Charlie

    This debt ceiling fight was awesome, I hope it goes the wire in 6 weeks as well. Find the stocks with a 1 Beta, when the market falls buy buy buy, the market always always has a great recovery when a deal is announced. It works every time, you can make a great return and have money left over to reward the RNC.

    October 10, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. Mark

    One poster said that we shouldn't turn our backs on veterans in a time of war. What war? We're not at war. We have dilberately manufactured conflicts in the Middle East, but we are certainly not at war. Why should some get paid and not others? The more exceptions that are made, the less incentive there is to actually fix the problem.

    October 10, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. govtreform

    "Some Animals are more equal than others"
    Gotta love the GOP tactics. Shut the Govt down, but only the parts that don't make the Republicans look bad. Should have never approved this. I love my country. I respect warriors who died, but the Republicans shame their memories by politicizing what they did. Shame on them all. Traitors to the stars and stripes.

    October 10, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  16. Anna

    Harry Reid is one of the biggest problems facing our national security.

    October 10, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. lunchbreaker

    The problem here is it is obvious the Republicans planned in advance to do this. What was in the budget was not top secret.

    October 10, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. LK

    It should never have come to this! You sent our children to a political war that is not winnable. Just like you did for Vietnam! They get killed and you turn your backs on the families of these kids. You had to have your rating drop to 5% to approve for the death benefits so the families can bury their loved ones. I am a Vet and I am ashamed of our politicians and the way this government is operating. I wonder why I even gave 20 years to try and keep America a great place to live in freedom. Right now this is not a great place to live and I am beginning to believe that you are trying to recreate communist china on my doorstep. I hope you are all fired and or impeached for this crap you are pulling!

    October 10, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. Mark

    All this is was the Republicans trying to stir the pot by creating an issue since their previous attempt showing veterans locked out of a memorial failed to garner significant public reaction. How many families are really waiting for these checks? They don't say, but it's probably less than the families who have a family member that has been furloughed.

    October 10, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. Silence DoGood

    @freedom (misnomer) "More decisions that citizens live by should be voted on state by state. "

    After running to the Supreme Court to get Bush elected over-turning Florida State, and trying to implement State Morality and State Religion, I would think "states rights" would stick in most conservatives' throats.

    Just to be clear, conservatives want their kind of big government and (corporate) welfare more than liberals do.

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

    The House passed this bill on October 1. The Senate has SAT on it all of this time. Aside from the fact that this president of ours and the Sec of Def should have NEVER allowed this to happen. They KNEW this was going to happen but he wanted to PUNISH us even more.

    He is a disgrace!!!

    October 10, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. www.twitter.com/hlmelsaid

    Benefit cuts.

    October 10, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. www.twitter.com/hlmelsaid

    New cuts.

    October 10, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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