WASHINGTON, October 9 -
Mr. Speaker, we lost five warriors on the battlefield of Afghanistan recently. They were 25-year-old 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno; 24-year-old Pfc. Cody J. Patterson; 24-year-old Special Agent Joseph M. Peters; 25-year-old Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins; and 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Jeremiah M. Collins, Jr.
Unfortunately, their families were given the news not only that they had lost their loved ones, but they were also told that they would not be given the $100,000 in death benefits that they were entitled to receive within three days of the death of their loved ones.
The $100,000 payment is being withheld from the families--two of them Army Rangers--and one Marine and the bodies of the five warriors will be returned to Dover Air Force Base today. Congress needs to act NOW to rectify this absurd and disgraceful situation.
This money helps the families by giving them an immediate source of cash to help get through the tough times surrounding the funeral of their loved ones.
The Pentagon says it has specific instructions from its budget office not to make payments for deaths that occurred after 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2013--the date of the start of the government shutdown.
Congress passed a bill last week which should have made it clear that the Pentagon had the authority to make these kinds of payments, however this Administration continues to play politics with this shutdown and has apparently directed DOD not to make these payments.
In order to make it ABUNDANTLY clear that DOD has the authority to make these payments, I thank the Speaker for quickly bringing this bill up to the floor.
It is my hope that the Senate quickly passes this bill, and the President signs it. There is no excuse that any other American hero's family is told that they will not get the death benefit they deserve. And that's just the way it is.