President Obama was “very disturbed” to learn that the Department of Defense is unable to pay death benefits to families of U.S. service members during the government shutdown and expects the issue to be “fixed today,” the White House said this afternoon.
“He was not pleased to learn of this problem,” Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters. “And he has directed the OMB [Office of Management and Budget] and his lawyers to find a solution. And he expects to have one today.
“I don’t think there’s any disagreement that this is a matter that needs to be resolved, that it’s unthinkable that these benefits would not be available. And, therefore, he’s doing the right thing as commander in chief and making sure that it’s resolved.”
The Pentagon informed Congress before the shutdown that it would be legally unable to pay the “death gratuity” of $100,000 to families of deceased military personnel, Carney said. The president and Congress acted before the government shut down nine days ago to ensure that active-duty service members would continue to get paid but, “unfortunately, this issue was not explicitly addressed as part of the Pay Our Military Act,” he said.
“The president was very disturbed to learn of this problem and he directed the Department of Defense to work with the Office of Management and Budget and his lawyers to develop a possible solution.”