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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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October 9, 2013 - 12:52 pm

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel accepted a private foundation’s offer to help cover the death gratuity payments for families of fallen soldiers while deflecting all blame from his department or the administration for stopping the payments in the first place.

“Today I am pleased to announce that the Department of Defense is entering into an agreement with the Fisher House Foundation that will allow the federal government to provide the family members of fallen service members with the full set of benefits they have been promised, including a $100,000 death gratuity payment,” Hagel said in a statement.

The Fisher House currently provides lodging and flights to families who want to be near their loved ones in military medical facilities or VA hospitals. Yesterday, the nonprofit offered to advance the money to families.

“I am offended, outraged, and embarrassed that the government shutdown had prevented the Department of Defense from fulfilling this most sacred responsibility in a timely manner,” Hagel continued. “In the days before the shutdown, we warned Congress and the American people that DoD would not have the legal authority to make these payments during a lapse in appropriations. In the days after the shutdown, Departmental lawyers and budget officials pursued every tool and option at our disposal in an effort to provide these benefits. Even under the Pay Our Military Act, we found that we lacked the necessary authority to make payments to the families directly.”

On the contrary, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle said that they believed the payments were covered under the Pay Our Military Act, which broadly funds active-duty personnel as well as essential civilians and contractors.

What the payments boiled down to was Hagel’s interpretation of the law.

“In the last 24 hours, however, the Department of Defense was approached by the Fisher House Foundation, which had generously offered to make payments to these families from its own funds. In consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, DoD has determined that we can enter into a contract with the Fisher House Foundation to provide these benefits. The Fisher House Foundation will provide the families of the fallen with the benefits they so richly deserve. After the shutdown ends, DoD will reimburse the Fisher House for the costs it has incurred,” Hagel continued.

That offer was brokered by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) as lawmakers scrambled for a stopgap measure to assist families of five fallen soldiers since the shutdown began.

“The Department has no higher priority than taking care of our service members and their families,” Hagel continued. “Our men and women in uniform must know that the Department will always fulfill its responsibilities to them and to their families. Congress has responsibilities as well, and it has abdicated them. Along with the rest of the Department’s leaders, I will continue to work every day to address the very real impact that the government shutdown is having on our people, and I once again call on Congress to fulfill its basic responsibilities and restore funding for the federal government.”

Before Hagel’s announcement, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the White House was working on a fix that “does not involve legislation.”

“We will have a solution to this problem today,” Carney said. “The president has directed the OMB and his lawyers to find a solution to this. They’re working on it and will have it today.”

Carney said the problem was that the death benefits weren’t “explicitly addressed” in the broadly written Pay Our Military Act, which Obama signed on the even of the shutdown.

“What Congress did not do when it was informed by the Department of Defense that the DOD would be legally unable to pay these death benefits was take action, A, to keep the government open. That did not seem to disturb the Republicans who thought it was the right thing to do to shut the government down, just as it did not seem to be particularly disturbing to Republicans when they would cause all the other consequences of shutdown. They chose, instead, to shut the government down,” he added.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) pointed the finger of blame at Eric Holder.

“The Pentagon isn’t totally autonomous. They have to deal with the Justice Department. I think the Justice Department attorneys were interpreting it differently. I think that’s probably the ones that muddied this up,” McKeon told CNN.

The House this afternoon passed the explicit reinstatement of death gratuities and related survivor benefits on a vote of 425-0.

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) called for support in the upper chamber, which has refused to bring piecemeal appropriations bills to the floor.

“There may be differences in opinion in this chamber over the fiscal direction of this country, but we should be united in the need to do right by our military families,” Cornyn said. “The way they have been treated is outrageous and unacceptable and must be rectified immediately.”

“If they don’t want to deal with it, if they don’t want to take care of the survivors of those who pay the ultimate price, shame on them,” McKeon said. “I think they should take it up this afternoon, have it on the president’s desk tomorrow, and not have any hijinx. We shouldn’t be treating our military like this.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
Hagel is a douche bag but Ive no doubt that Holder ordered this abomination.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hagel is too stooopid to come up with this on his own; he obviously has his marching orders from The Iranian (Jarrett) and other White Mosque officials. Hopefully, this causes enough of a public outrage, as it should, that even dems - not from any moral obligations which they obviously do not possess, but simply because they don't want to be hurt politically - will PUBLICLY scorn Hagel for the LIAR and DESPICABLE BASTARD he truly is....denying these benefits to the loved ones of our fallen heroes is just despicable; this should show all Americans just how disgustingly anti-American these socialist/marxist/communist phouckers REALLY are.

Remember BENGHAZI!
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hagel is such a slimebag.

How much of a slimebag? He's made me miss Leon Panetta ...
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (29)
All Comments   (29)
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my best friends uncle got a very nice Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Sedan from only workin on a computer. check my blog
>>>>>> WWW.JOBS72.COM
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
my buddy's half-sister makes $60/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for nine months but last month her income was $17092 just working on the laptop for a few hours. moved here------> WWW.Rush64.COM
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hagel is a prime example of everyone of Obama's appointments. Inept political hacks, with the morals, ethics,and principles of alley rats. And we can thank all those RINO's in the Senate that confirmed them. When you start with garbage, you can be sure you'll end up with garbage, and that seems to be the makeup of this government.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Stop whining people. The government is shut down, we did it, some stuff won't happen. If we are serious about controlling govt spending we should stop whining when the govt doesn't pay for something we like. We own this. Grow up.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
my best friend's half-sister makes $72/hour on the internet. She has been laid off for 7 months but last month her pay was $17065 just working on the internet for a few hours. view it now........ WWW.Rush64.COM
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Pure politics. There have been 26 military deaths since 1 Oct. Paying the death benefits would have cost $2.6 million to date. That's chump change in the DOD budget. The Pentagon has that money -- has it in the requisite account -- and has chosen not to spend it on the death benefits.

Disgusting.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
“What Congress did not do when it was informed by the Department of Defense that the DOD would be legally unable to pay these death benefits was take action, A, to keep the government open.
If only we had a press! This clueless statement by Carney the circus barker is ripe with opportunity for questions For the last 15 years we have seen senseless legislation and government edict with no clue or appreciation for the law of unintended consequences. Our dear press blithely lets it slide on by. YO! Hagel you had the authorization, you chose to make it into a photo/news op instead; anything to blame and denigrate at any cost excrement is too good a word to describe what you behavior describes.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
This POS is supposed to put the welfare of the troops under his authority above EVERYTHING else. Just like his slimey boss he blames someone else. When I was a Marine we did not ask why something wasn't done we just got it done. As the Sec of Def he knows what his duty is and this traitor is only responsible to the Marxist in the WH.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
House votes 425 to 0 to fund specifically the death benefit although it was covered under the previous bill and the Senate Democrat controlled refuses to bring it to the floor for a vote.

Thank you Harry (balls) Reid...

Now if the Frippin headline would read:

Harry Reid stops bill to pay soldier's death benifit!

But of course we can't have the LoFos learning the truth now can we?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd like to see Hagel's Army mental tests. Did he take the test for OCS and flunk it?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
My guess is that he was either supposed to report to cooks and bakers school or to roads and grounds, but even they didn't want him.

The poster boy for befuddled incompetence.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
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