Shutdown Suspends Death Benefits to Families of U.S. Soldiers Killed in Combat

The partisan gridlock in Washington is even barring the Pentagon from helping military families pay for burial costs

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A U.S. Marine carry team carries the body of their comrade, Marine Pfc. Steven P. Stevens, at Delaware's Dover Air Force Base, June 25, 2012. Stevens, from Detroit, Michigan, was killed while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan.

The families of four U.S. Army Rangers killed in combat in Afghanistan over the weekend will not be flown by the Pentagon to Dover Air Force Base to witness the return of the soldiers’ bodies, as is customary, due to the ongoing government shutdown. Instead, the non-profit Lead the Way Foundation, which was founded to aid families of U.S. Army Rangers, will cover the transportation expenses.

Until Congress allocates funds, the Department of Defense is also barred by law from helping to cover burial costs and from making the $100,000 death gratuity payments to the families, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Speaker of the House John Boehner said, “I think it’s disgraceful that they’re being denied these benefits,” and added that the matter would be specifically addressed in Congress on Wednesday.

Congress is reported to be working on a fix that will allow the Pentagon to cover benefits for the deceased soldiers during the shutdown.

[The Wall Street Journal]