Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

OLSON REBUKES OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FOR DENYING DEATH BENEFITS TO FAMILIES OF FALLEN MILITARY MEMBERS

October 10, 2013
Press Release

Washington, DC - Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) today issued the following statement rebuking the Obama Administration for failing to provide death benefits to the families of fallen soldiers during the partial government shutdown. The Department of Defense (DOD) claims that during the shutdown it does not have the authority to pay the promised death gratuities, despite the clear intent of legislation passed by Congress to address military pay and benefits.   Now, a private charity organization, the Fisher House Foundation, has as stepped forward to cover the death benefits.

“President Obama’s spokesman claims that the refusal to pay the death benefit to families of the fallen came as a surprise to the President.  Yet, four days before the government shutdown began, the Pentagon comptroller told reporters it would not be possible to pay these death benefits during the shutdown. Congress then unanimously passed the Pay Our Military Act to ensure all US military payments would continue during the shutdown. Using the Department of Defense’s own summary of their programs, this bill clearly intended to include the funding to families of fallen military members when it was signed into law by the President.”

DOD officials then claimed they did not have the authority to continue paying the death gratuities, a shameful interpretation of the relief, and one designed to hurt innocent, grieving families.   The House addressed this latest outrage by passing another bill making explicit to DOD that the death benefits must be paid immediately.  Instead of immediately passing this important legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid waited until today to take action.”

“I am thankful that the Fisher House Foundation offered to pay the death benefits to families of our nation’s military heroes because it’s becoming clearer that the President and Senate Democrats care more about gaining political power than helping the American people. That disgusts me. Rest assured, we will not sit back and let the Obama Administration try to manipulate public opinion by dishonorably insulting the families of fallen soldiers.”

The Pay Our Military Act, H.R.3210, unanimously passed the House to pay our troops any and all benefits while the government is shut down. It passed the Senate and was signed into law by the President last week. The Honoring the Families of Fallen Soldiers Act, H.J.Res.91, passed the House yesterday to request that DOD resume paying benefits to the families of military members who have been killed in combat during the shutdown.  The Senate only now just passed the act and sent it to the President for his signature.

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Media Contact: Melissa Kelly

202-225-5951