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house Bill H.R. 250

When the Government Shuts Down, Should the Families of Fallen Servicemembers Still Get Their Benefits?

Argument in favor

This bill would ensure that the families of those who make the ultimate sacrifice for the country receive the financial benefits necessary to help them cope with the loss, no matter what kind of partisan squabbling may be happening on Capitol Hill.

ThomasParker's Opinion
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05/25/2015
The moral argument for this is simple. The legal argument is that these families have arranged their affairs in such a way with the expectation of receiving these benefits. Therefore, not distributing them (or other guaranteed benefits) is a breach of contractual obligation.
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Shalomian's Opinion
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05/25/2015
The soldiers go to serve their country and the government has promised to provide care for the families in the event of their death. The soldiers have kept their end of the deal, the government should honor theirs.
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Kasem's Opinion
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05/25/2015
Yes because government shutdowns are the result of a major failure of our government officials and dead serviceman's families shouldn't suffer further due to our governments incompetence
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Argument opposed

It’s critical to ensure that the families of people who die in service receive their due, yes. But what about all the other programs that are put at risk in a shutdown? It’d be a better use of Congresses time to pass legislation not to shutdown.

Robert's Opinion
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05/25/2015
If the government shuts down all senators and congressmen should not be paid.
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Kristina's Opinion
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05/26/2015
The government shouldn't be shutting down. PERIOD. Their are plenty of people with severe needs that are affected by a shutdown; we shouldn't be prioritizing one group over another in such a crisis, and certainly not with legislation that is not taking into account those other people and groups.
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Thomas's Opinion
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05/27/2015
When the government shuts down, everything should, so that Congress is incentivized to never let that happen.
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What is House Bill H.R. 250?

This bill seeks to honor those who have given their lives while serving in the armed forces by ensuring that, in the event of a government shutdown, their families still receive the benefits to which they’re entitled.

By law, when a member of the armed services die during their service, or within 120 days of being discharged, their families are paid a “death gratuity”. During a government shutdown, these benefits, like so many other government functions, grind to a halt. This bill would authorize, in the event of a government shutdown, any money left in the Treasury that hadn’t already been reserved for “military personnel” or “operation and maintenance” could be used to pay out these benefits. The benefit rate would be maintained at the levels most recently authorized by the budget.

Death benefits generally include $100,000 for the family, a year-long housing stipend, and coverage of expenses related to the service members’ funeral. The Dept. of Defense also covers travel expenses so that families can meet service members’ bodies at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. 

Impact

The families of veterans who are killed in action, every entity that takes money from the Treasury.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 250

A CBO estimate is unavailable.

More Information

Of Note: On October 1, 2013, after Congressional Republicans and Democrats failed to reach an agreement on the federal budget, the government shut down. 800,000 government employees were furloughed, and another 1.3 million went to work without knowing when they were going to be paid. Countless government programs were shut down or had their services cut: everything from immigration offices, to shelters for domestic abuse survivors, to Head Start Programs faced cutbacks.

The first weekend of that October, four soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. Due to the shutdown, their families did not receive benefits and were expected to foot the bill of meeting their loved one's bodies at Dover themselves. On the tenth of the month, a temporary bill was passed to ensure that these payments would be carried out.


In Depth: This bill has bipartisan support. A similar previous bill authorized the payment of death benefits in the event of a government shutdown — but that bill was only good through fiscal year 2014. This one would be permanent.



Media:

Summary by James Helmsworth

(Photo Credit: Flickr user DVIDSHUB)  

AKA

Families of Fallen Servicemembers First Act

Official Title

To provide a permanent appropriation of funds for the payment of death gratuities and related benefits for survivors of deceased members of the uniformed services in event of any period of lapsed appropriations.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Appropriations
    IntroducedJanuary 9th, 2015
    The moral argument for this is simple. The legal argument is that these families have arranged their affairs in such a way with the expectation of receiving these benefits. Therefore, not distributing them (or other guaranteed benefits) is a breach of contractual obligation.
    Like (29)
    Follow
    Share
    If the government shuts down all senators and congressmen should not be paid.
    Like (29)
    Follow
    Share
    The soldiers go to serve their country and the government has promised to provide care for the families in the event of their death. The soldiers have kept their end of the deal, the government should honor theirs.
    Like (19)
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    Share
    The government shouldn't be shutting down. PERIOD. Their are plenty of people with severe needs that are affected by a shutdown; we shouldn't be prioritizing one group over another in such a crisis, and certainly not with legislation that is not taking into account those other people and groups.
    Like (12)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes because government shutdowns are the result of a major failure of our government officials and dead serviceman's families shouldn't suffer further due to our governments incompetence
    Like (9)
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    Share
    When the government shuts down, everything should, so that Congress is incentivized to never let that happen.
    Like (7)
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    Shift it - make the members of Congress pay a stiff daily penalty when the government shuts down. This should hurt them, badly, or they'll continue to use it as a bargaining chip.
    Like (6)
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    No matter of what your reasoning is, bottom line, the families of fallen heroes should be taken care of regardless of what stupid decisions the government makes
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    While these people have earned these benefits and deserve to get them, there shouldn't be a shutdown anyway. These people should protest against the shutdown as well.
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    This one is a no brainer ,cut the fat cat Senators and Congressmen's PAY then that could help pay benefits cut out the presidents extra vacations and golf junkets too
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    I do not believe The House or Congress Members should draw pay for the days the government is shut down in fact I believe there should be a penalty for each day of shutdown besides their loss of pay
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    Pass the bill. Then work on the mess that is causing shutdowns. Fix the system and stop using political agenda to punish the other party. It is time to listen to constituents, and vote your conscience...slam the door on party whips and payback threats by power lobbies....and proceed with government of the people by the people and for the people. Restore the dignity and respect of a Congress that works together in a crisis for the good of the country. Allow no pork insertions to gain votes. Play together well like you were in Kindergarten.
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    Punish Congressmen for ineptitude, not the widows of fallen heroes.
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    Really? Of course they should get benefits
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    It is not their fault congress can't keep the government running
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    Our military servicemen and women are the most important group of Americans out there. Without them our country wouldn't be what it is today, so when a soldier doesn't return home we must pay our respects to their families, no matter the cost.
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    While depriving families of fallen service members in the event of a government shutdown is morally wrong, letting one service continue while others are reduced is wrong. If the government shuts down, it all shuts down; if one set of benefits received this special treatment then why not other sets of benefits after all you already made the exception. Eventually government shutdowns are meaningless.
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    First, the government should not shut down. Second, we made a promise. That may not mean much to some but it does to me.
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    These benefits were earned and the dependents rely on them. Shouldn't even be a question here
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    As a veteran, this shouldn't even be a question.
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