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GOP says pay act covers military death benefits

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Obama administration lists the military's death gratuity to the families of fallen heroes as a basic part of its pay and allowances schedule.

But the Pentagon now is refusing to pay the benefit, saying it has no specific authorization during the partial government shutdown.

The families of six service members killed in action have been told they will not receive the $100,000 payment.

Congressional Republicans say the Pay Our Military Act, passed by Congress and signed by Mr. Obama on Sept. 30, authorizes such payments. The act states that it is authorizing "such sums as are necessary to provide pay and allowances to members of the armed forces."

And the death gratuity is listed on the Pentagon's official list — "Pays and Allowances Summary."

Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, has sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The letter contains the Pentagon's official lists of pays and allowances, and asks the secretary what other benefits he plans to deny service members in addition to the death gratuity.

"We cannot in good conscience deny these benefits to the survivors of deceased members," Mr. Wilson wrote.

A House defense staffer for the House Committee on Armed Services said the death gratuity, like benefits paid to dependents, is considered an allowance for a service member and that is why it is on the Pentagon' s official list. The Pay Our Military Act was written to cover pay and allowances, the staffer said.

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