WASHINGTON (WAVY) - The House is set to vote on the Honoring the Families of Fallen Soldiers Act Wednesday afternoon. If passed, it would ensure families of the fallen receive death benefits despite the government shutdown.
Since the shutdown began, 17 service members have died, five whom were killed in Afghanistan over the weekend. None of families have received the routine financial help the Department of Defense usually disburses.
Typically, when a service member dies, their families receive a one-time $100,000 tax-free payment within three days to use to cover immediate expenses. Family members also receive a lump sum up front to cover one year's housing allowance, and $9,000 for funeral and burial expenses, as well as travel costs related to the funeral.
But because of the shutdown, those payments have not been going out.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling the oversight an embarrassment.
"The families who lost the five loved ones are suffering an unbearable loss. And now they're being denied death benefits because of this senseless shutdown it's shameful and embarrassing," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
"I'm ashamed, I'm embarrassed. All of us should be," said Senator John McCain (R-AZ).
The measure which will be voted on Wednesday afternoon would ensure families receive payments during the shutdown, so far it appears to have bipartisan support.
Wednesday, Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will attend the arrival of the bodies of four of the fallen at Dover Air Force Base.
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