Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale warned in late September that military death-benefit payments would be delayed for families of troops who were killed during a government shutdown, but it took until the second week of the crisis for members of Congress to propose doing anything about it.
"We would also be required to do some ... bad things to our people," Hale warned during a briefing on September 27, detailing the negative effects of a shutdown on the military. "We couldn't immediately pay death gratuities to those who die on active duty during the lapse."
Now that NBC News reports that families of five servicemembers killed over the weekend in Afghanistan won't get their benefits, there is outrage. Republican members of Congress announced plans to legislatively address the problem, which Speaker John Boehner called "disgraceful," on Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also expressed outrage over this consequence of the funding lapse, calling the situation "appalling."
“Your government has let you down in a time of need. There’s no excuse for this,” Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, a heavily military state, said Tuesday of the foreseen, announced, and unaddressed delay in death benefits caused by the shutdown.
The military "death gratuity" provides $100,000 to families of troops killed in action. The burial benefit and survivor housing allowance are also suspended.