Even though Congress unanimously passed a pre-shutdown bill to keep pay flowing to the military, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) blamed Republicans for a stop in death gratuities to the survivors of service members killed in action.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have come down hard on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for his “interpretation” of the Pay Our Military Act under which civilians deemed necessary for troop morale still get paid but families of those killed over the past week in Afghanistan are denied the immediate $100,000 payment to help defray expenses.
“You know, obviously with death of any of our troops in the line of duty, that’s nothing short of heartbreaking that the Republican government shutdown has caused those death benefits not to be paid,” Wasserman Schultz said on MSNBC.
“But these mini continuing spending resolutions are forcing us essentially to choose between our children. It’s heartbreaking on the death of some of our troops. And it’s heartbreaking that the Republicans have denied children with cancer the ability to participate in drug trials at NIH. And it’s heartbreaking that in my district in South Florida you have hunger programs that are running out of food reserves to be able to make sure that families can eat,” she continued.
“And with each of these spending bills, the Republicans are essentially asking us to choose between our children and really trying to release the pressure that is raining down on them and trying to put bills on the floor to reopen the most painful parts of the government that are politically hurting them.”
Wasserman Schultz accused House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) of being more concerned “about holding onto his speakership rather than the plight of troops that have been killed in the line of duty, children with cancer, or the hungry in this country. It’s unacceptable.”
She reiterated the party line that a clean continuing resolution needs to come to the floor before Dems consider negotiating, but wouldn’t promise there would be any compromise on the medical device tax, which many in her own party also oppose.
“If there are problems with the Affordable Care Act as it’s being implemented, we’ve all said we need to sit down and work out those problems, iron out those kinks,” Wasserman Schultz said. “But we’re not going to allow the Republicans to burn the house down because we didn’t like our kitchen redesign. I mean, that’s essentially what they are trying to do and we’re not going to allow them to hold the economy hostage with the Affordable Care Act and health care, quality, affordable health care for millions of people as ransom.”