Obama signs bill restoring military death benefits

By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- President Obama signed a bill Thursday night to restart federal death benefits for families of military members who die on active duty.

The Senate earlier Thursday passed the House-approved bill and sent it to the White House.

Controversy began to swirl this week over the $100,000 in death benefits the Department of Defense usually pays out within three days of a service member’s death.

Families frequently use the money to travel for burial services. But the payments were temporarily halted as a result of the political stalemate over funding the federal government.

During an evening walk with his chief of staff on Tuesday, aides say,  Obama ordered his staff to “get creative” and figure out how to resume the payments.

The Pentagon reached a deal with the Fisher House Foundation, a charity helping military families, to pay the benefits until the government reopens. The government will pay back Fisher House.

The GOP-led House, which has passed a number of bills to restart specific government functions, approved a measure to restore payments Wednesday. On Thursday, the Senate gave its unanimous approval.

The administration is opposed to the House GOP’s piecemeal measures that restore a few popular programs but leave the rest to languish under the ongoing government shutdown. The Senate has not taken up most of those bills.