Military won't pay death benefits during government shutdown

U.S. soldier, military, troops, pentagon Washington, Capitol Hill money, pay, defense CBS/AP

CBS/AP

Updated 5:04 p.m. Eastern Time

The Pentagon said Friday will not pay the $100,000 death benefit to the families of members of the military killed in the line of duty if the government shuts down.

Families of fallen service members would get the money after the government reopens. But as CBS News' national security correspondent David Martin points out, the $100,000 payment is usually paid immediately to help cover a funeral and other extraordinary expenses.

The government will shut down at midnight if a new spending bill is not signed by then.

A Pentagon official said that if a new spending bill is signed by April 12 - Tuesday - members of the military may get their full paychecks on April 15. If not, service members will get paid through April 8. After that they will continue to earn money but not get paid until the shutdown ends. Once the government reopens, there will be a special pay day to give service members their back pay.

The official said all military personnel will report for duty during a shutdown, but about half of the Department of Defense's 800,000 civilian employees will be furloughed without pay. All routine operations, such as maintenance on buildings and classroom training, would cease immediately.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told troops Friday this week that "my wife and I, when I was your age, we lived paycheck to paycheck and not getting a paycheck can be some - can lead to some pretty severe disruption in your life whether it's missing a car payment or rent or something else."

"So I really hope they get this thing resolved so that the pay keeps flowing," he continued, adding: "This troubles me a great deal because a significant portion of our military are young people and we have a lot of young families."

The Democrat-led Senate passed a bill on March 1 mandating that members of Congress not be paid during a government shutdown, but the GOP-led House did not take it up.

House Republicans passed a bill yesterday that would have funded the Department of Defense for the rest of the fiscal year. But it was tied to a short-term budget bill containing $12 billion in spending cuts that Democrats had not agreed to, as well as a policy provision that would prohibit federal or local funding paying for abortions in Washington D.C. President Obama vowed to veto it if it came across his desk.

Democratic Rep. Bill Owens of New York put forward a measure separate yesterdaythat would have ensured soldiers were paid, but it failed along party lines, with just one Republican joining Democrats to support the measure.

In the Senate, Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas says she has gathered at least 60 members in support of her bill to make sure troops get paid, the Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act. That same legislation was introduced in the House by Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, but Republican leadership has not put it up for a vote.

Military pay hangs in the balance in government shutdown negotiationsJohn Boehner, Harry Reid vow to give up salaries during shutdownGovernment shutdown: Can they make a deal?Bob Schieffer: Congress' behavior "shameful"


Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.