Shutdown Halts Payments to Families of Troops Killed in Action

Veteran health benefits are among many services currently not being funded due to shutdown.
16:27 | 10/09/13

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Transcript for Shutdown Halts Payments to Families of Troops Killed in Action
This is a special room. Hello everyone I'm -- Hernandez in New York with his ABC news digital special report they have already paid the ultimate price but now. Families of the military war is dead are being asked. Suffer even more -- that the government shut down funeral costs and death benefits. Are being denied one of the many. Repercussions of the government shutdown that has come to light ABC's Karen Travers has more now on this disturbing effect to shut down Karen. Get -- -- -- that is certainly the focus of everybody today and we really haven't seen a lot of agreement between Republicans and Democrats over the last couple of weeks but. Everybody agrees that this is just unacceptable and needs to be fixed and today there is actually a meeting -- -- had this is how excited we're getting about some little bits of progress here in Washington there was a meeting between top Republicans in the house and top Democrats. But nobody is saying what happened and nobody is saying if there was any movement that occurred during the meeting. Republicans and Democrats haven't agreed on much of anything during this nine day government shuts down. But when it comes to taking care of the families of fallen soldiers -- now bipartisan outreach. I'm ashamed. And embarrassed. All of -- should be. Washington may be shot down. But is still asking people go to war since the shutdown began seventeen service members have -- six in Afghanistan. But because -- furloughs at the Pentagon paperwork is piling up. And the families of those service members are being -- to sacrifice even more. They have received the so called death benefits of 100000 dollar payment usually issued within three days of notification of death. -- Families can use the funds to travel to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to. The flag draped caskets of fallen loved ones that's one of the most dignified ceremonies. And miss. It's hurtful. Military families said the -- also critical for fuel costs and other expenses. You have these these things that you have to take care. He really never ever ever thought -- ever had to take care. And now -- that this act from level. Among cash comic supposed to pay for any of this. -- today the house will consider a measure that will get these benefits to the families that need them but until congress sorts out this -- A military charity -- stepped and said they would write short term funding for travel costs as well as funeral expenses -- I care what do we know about the president's agenda anything related to the shut down on his schedule. Yes he added a very large meeting at the White House today -- the president has asked all of the house Democrats come down to the White House that is quite a large meeting the becoming down and -- from Capitol Hill. And -- there will be no coverage of that unfortunately we won't be able to -- clamoring to see it being discussed but for now. Democrats have been -- standing together standing firm in they're positioning on the shutdown at this point. We also hear that the president is going to extend invitations to Republicans as well. He said yesterday that he -- want to negotiate but he doesn't want to do when the government is shut down. Or while the threat of the default is still on the table but this is actually for a big step forward he is having these meetings and suggesting that there could be future talks -- Aren't these -- in Washington thank you for joining us and now let's bring in ABC news political director Rick Klein from Washington Rick. You know we have -- Movement but as Karen said it's a sign of how bad things are when we're Guinea about -- And that's exactly right look at we've -- nine days into this and we haven't seen any change to the talking points but if you read between the lines you're starting to see the contours of something that could work. President Obama said yesterday he said he would accept -- short term deal to. Reopen the government -- short term lifting of the debt ceiling to provide the breathing -- -- engage in budget negotiations. We've seen some hopeful signs out of Republicans. These meetings that are going on bipartisan meetings for the first time in this that it is at least feeling out the other side about some of the things that could potentially be on the table. And I was struck by a poll that we just saw it just tells you how the voters are viewing this -- Obama's approval rating down -- dismal 37%. That's dismal. Until you realize that congress' approval rating and -- a people. 5%. 12345%. Approval rating of congress in the middle of this crisis. Yet I think what that Republicans that Democrats are looking at. Our hoping to glean is which party is taking the blame any reading there. Well -- -- ego 37 to five cells that will blow out although it's the it's not a swear that either side. Would be -- particularly be -- up there's a larger point that both sides will take blame for this but this is a Republican crisis and is being blamed. Primarily on Republicans and Republicans in -- in congress keep in mind. What got us into this. Was the effort to defund obamacare it -- and scale back those ambitions and now we're down to just some long term structural changes to the deficit and debt. But we would not be here if not for Republicans and that's something that the -- of the that's getting out of the voters to some degree. They're not -- -- the president or Democrats off the hook. But they aren't they do seem to be digesting the they concept that we're in this crisis and now staring down another potential crisis next week because of the actions of house Republicans. I'm Rick we just have some video -- so let's take a look this is John Boehner. And Nancy Pelosi heading into that meeting obviously. Lot of serious and somber faces going in. But we don't know what happened in that meeting any sense that there is any progress at this meeting today -- -- will they're being perhaps. Any hope for progress Wendy White House has its meeting later on. This could be a critical day it does seem crazy to suggest that did it you. You go for this long -- and you -- having negotiations that's actually the truth the two sides. Have not been talking throughout this of the fact that there at least exchanging. Glances -- each other's direction counts as something significant. I think the meeting at the White House tonight will be key because. This represents that the democratic base and how -- they they're willing to let the president go out these negotiations. How involved the president will be in these talks so. I do think that we are seeing movement for the first time in awhile in this and at least that this sense of optimism. That -- there could be an end to this crisis. Rick every day essence -- shut down we've been getting some insight into how disinfecting individuals in this country today the focus. Appears to be on war families people whose children have died in -- -- conflict. It is going to be enough to push compromise forward -- does this bill that some people like to see some immediate funding. Four these things happen or temporary funding doesn't stand a chance. Those -- two very different questions actually because in the latter question -- -- the former harder to resolve by that me. If you keep -- taking care piecemeal of people who were impacted by this budget impasse and and no one would dispute that they deserve to be taking care up. In -- putting off the day of reckoning when it comes to the larger agreement so it actually works at cross purposes which has been the White House position on most of these bills that set. This is a bad one and it stings when you see. And the media images of families who were impacted by this and it's not just the the immediate families of folks who work who died in combat ultimately that they'll get the benefits that they're entitled to under the law. It's also tens of thousands of veterans who -- gonna have to wait longer for services. That the VA -- -- the veterans administration has a terrible backlog for claims they were starting to work through that this is set them back and the idea that offices are shattered that people who served in in honorable fashion. Don't get the services that they are entitled to that -- they deserve. It has galvanized some of the discussions are on ending -- but again. If you just take care of these pieces you're not taking care of the broader issue which is what -- us that this stance the where we have that the government shut down. And potentially run out of room on our credit card next week. I and we have a few things floating out there today we have this temporary voting temporary measure to fund. The veterans administration we have some meetings today going on between both parties the White House also have. That vote count me in keeping for the clean funding measure. 218 number what without -- The numbers 217 because of the current -- in the house and yes we are north of that I believe -- to nineteen right now -- -- little bit of wiggle room as these things go. All Democrats -- 200 Democrats every single one of them has told. ABC news either through public actions are direct statements to us that they are preparedness to support a quote unquote clean bill to fund the government through the end of the year. You add that to this number of Republicans and and right now I believe we're in nineteen Republicans whose state has seen -- say the same in the or above to seventeen now. As I point out over -- anti these are this is a hypothetical account because there is no vote to come to the floor but it does undercut speaker -- point which is he says. There aren't the votes to -- to reopen the government without attaching conditions that does not appear to be the case at this hour. Is there any way they can call for the vote procedurally and push the speaker. Yes but it takes a long time to -- public discharge petition which forces the hand of the speaker of the house however. That involves legislative clock of thirty days that I think -- four days into this right now so that is seen as kind of the backup to the back up scenario just the put more pressure on speaker Boehner. No -- that I've talked to thinks that ultimately will come to that it is they'll either be resolution or speaker Boehner will be forced to put a vote up because of pressure that he's got from his own members long before we got to that moment. Thirty days is up there on time. -- yesterday we saw speaker Boehner at a press conference and we saw the president's marathon press conference and then speaker Boehner again clearly the public debate is still seen as very important. Washington. For a long time that's all we've had in this it -- because we didn't have the private discussions was about public perceptions is about. Trying to convince the UV the public that you are on the side of righteousness that the president trying to say that. That he used that the imagery over and over in the Republicans are holding hostage they're not doing. Their job directly to happen to the job before renegotiate Republicans simply saying. The president's not negotiating so those two arguments haven't changed for the space of a week and a half right now. But I think again the fact that they're meeting behind closed doors suggest that is at least something to talk about. -- -- -- it just refresh is again going forward. What isn't isn't on the table and others table and there are no negotiations in theory what would they be hashing out at this point to get that clean bill. It through three India house. So that in this is what they're discussing right now they're talking about personable. Reopening the federal government and not just for a period of several weeks but for a longer period of time they may do something shorter just to get -- -- that negotiations that have happened in the longer terms you can see at a very short just a few weeks -- that would just reopen the government push up the debt ceiling debate by just a matter of weeks. That would be used welding at the hard work negotiating -- but ultimately we're talking about a year or more. Then we're talking about things like entitlement reform the way -- you calculate inflation for instance some some means testing in the Medicare program is another thing Republicans have talked about. For quite a long time. May be some changes in the Obama health care law that minor ones for instance. People start facing a penalty next year if they don't purchase health insurance is a small penalties are just 95 dollars but. Lot of Republican interest in delaying that take some -- the teeth out of what the law means. Maybe maybe repealing or scaling back cynical the medical device tax a special tax in the Obama health care law designed to help fund. The system that doesn't change the structure of the program the president yesterday said he was open to having discussions around health care. And around long term drivers of the deficit and the debt that was seen as an open window for Republicans suffices me they -- to do here. Because here's the thing no one wants to be here everyone wants the walk away with something and now we're at least talking about the potential something's. Is -- -- way to walk away clear winner in any of this. I hardly anyone's and look good as a result of this but the key to me will be. Did they find a way to make everyone at least be able to say they won because will know that clearly -- -- gets more than the other that we political quotable winners and losers. But people will not the up for totally unconditionally surrendering. And it will not be a white flag raised over the capitol -- speaker Boehner says Democrats that want that not gonna happen not how politics works. Likewise the president is an entirely -- so there has to be a -- out and that's the territory are talking now. Where both sides can at least point to something and say we got this out of this negotiation this was the principal this was about because otherwise this was just the waste the time and money that we all knew it was. A lot of money at a cost more to shut down and keep running but let's talk about the negotiations on this on the deep -- that's coming October 17 may or may not be playing into what's being discussed now in Baden shot now. That's right -- we had two different deadlines here one was the and of government funding that was a week ago Monday -- -- on September 30 that was the end of the fiscal year. The more serious deadline now October 17 that's the date after which. The Treasury Secretary -- -- we will run out of ways to pay our bills without new borrowing and we will have the authority to do that new -- now. Does that he will be in technically deep fault on our debts. No not necessarily we will have some cash coming in and at some point of contention now some Republicans say the Treasury Secretary is being alarmist. That you don't have to defaults on -- that we can pay. Folks we -- we can pay our creditors there is cash flow -- tax receipts coming in. There's other ways around this but there is very little in forms. Commentary on the subject of whether this is serious or not next week there are people who will say. This is a made up crisis you can fund the the essential services and just make priority choices. That is very much the minority view the view from the business community the view from lawmakers -- -- -- study this is that if we're not able to continue borrowing beyond much beyond October 17. Very bad things start to happen in terms of our economy in terms of interest rates that will affect everyone does their for -- case through mortgages -- the trying to obtain you name it. And it and another issue that overhang is that is how the markets react because at a certain point there will be a calculation could be a calculation that we're likely to go past this deadline for the first time the nation's history. Not be paying all of our bills and that's when the calamitous -- start to happen so the White House engaged in bit of advance warning people about this without trying to panic them. And but just trying to urge action along and get this done through congress. Is it surprising that some Republicans have gone on the record saying they don't think the -- -- may be so bad isn't that a risky position to take when it. Right around the corner and we know what what in general has been predicted about the -- So keep in mind what what. Patrol a lot of these Republicans the congress in the first place and I I would argue that a lot of them don't consider themselves. Members of the court -- government -- say they started as activists they started as people who came to Washington to meet a big difference and to make statements and to make points. So it knowing that sense it's not politically surprising to me here that rhetoric emanating from some of these members. And I think look at me if you feel like the federal government it has been doing vastly more than it should be doing and if you feel like the only way to fix that is the starvation diet. That's what you get through -- in coming up against the debt ceiling. It is a is a blunt instrument is certainly not the ideal way to cut the government but -- what you want is a vastly scaled back government. You can get it as a result of this but I think that's a small fraction of the Republican Party maybe even a small fraction of the Tea Party -- Caucus that's in congress right now much much more prevailing sense is that this is serious and this is not something that you screw around with lightly and you have to make sure. It's something comes out of this that does not. In any way jeopardize the -- -- credited the United States. Our -- without -- a lot today I just to recap and to move it forward tell us again what is happening later today. And what -- we expect if if anything on movement. Meeting this afternoon of house Democrats at the White House they'll be talking strategy we just have a meeting. Between bipartisan leadership on Capitol Hill. The fact that we're seeing the word meeting again an encouraging sign we know the president is doing some press this afternoon -- -- doing another round of interviews in. Arguing it out in the public can now way both sides are are still playing the public -- but the fact -- -- a private game at all suggest that this cracks in -- -- for the first time in awhile. News political director Rick -- thank you so much for joining us. From Washington we are also expecting from Washington in a short while white house Press Secretary Jay Carney. He's expected speaking at his daily briefing briefing -- we bring that to -- lives as it happens attack -- -- New York you've been watching news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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