The Campaign Spot

The Worst Consequence of the Government Shutdown

As noted below, there are a lot of inane and overhyped consequences of the government shutdown: the limited menu at the White House mess, the buffet spread at the weekly congressional caucus meetings, the furloughed Capitol Hill elevator operators.

But there are also consequences that leave you shaking with anger.

Over the weekend, the Department of Defense announced the death of four soldiers in Zhari District, Afghanistan, “of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.” Separately, a Marine was killed while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

The financial benefit known as the “death gratuity” — roughly $100,000, designed to help the family until survivor’s benefits begin — is on hold until the government shutdown is resolved.

In all, “Seventeen servicemembers have died since the government shut down Oct. 1, a senior defense official said, including six in Afghanistan. None of the families of the 17 received the death gratuity.”

Congress and the president approved military pay during the shutdown, and Secretary Hagel brought back the civilian Department of Defense workers back, deeming them essential to military operations. But the Pentagon would need separate authorization and funding for the death gratuity.

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