Pentagon Deal Restores Death Benefits to Vets' Families

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As the budget battle raged on Wednesday, the Pentagon struck a deal with a private foundation to make sure the families of fallen troops get survivor benefits suspended during the government shutdown.

The move comes as Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki warned that more than 5 million disabled vets won't get paid if the closure lasts till November.

"If the shutdown does not end in the coming weeks, VA will not be able to assure delivery of 1 November checks to 5.18 million beneficiaries," Shinseki said.

Members of both parties have expressed outrage over the denial of benefits to families of fallen soldiers.

"I'm ashamed! I'm embarrassed! All of us should be. Washington may be shut down, but it's still asking people to go to war," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said.

Since the federal shutdown Oct. 1, 17 U.S. servicemen have died in Afghanistan.

Their families have yet to receive death benefits -- money used to travel to Dover Air Force base to receive the bodies of their loved ones. The funds are also used to cover critical funeral costs and other expenses.

The House also moved to remedy the problem Wednesday by voting unanimously to restore survivor benefits. Given the Pentagon deal, it's unclear whether or not the Senate will take up the measure.

Meanwhile, the financial world is showing clear signs it fears the battle in Washington could hurt the economy as the nation gets dangerously close to risking default on its loans.

Stock markets declined again Tuesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping nearly 160 points.

And the International Monetary Fund trimmed its global and U.S. growth forecasts through 2014, warning that a U.S. default would raise interest rates and potentially drive the American economy back into a recession.

"Warrant Buffet likened default to a nuclear bomb, a weapon too horrible to use," the president said.

Meanwhile, there are new charges from conservatives that Democrats and the White House are playing politics with the shutdown.

National parks and memorials remain closed, but on Tuesday the administration re-opened the National Mall for a pro-immigration rally.

"It seems like President Obama and the Democrats have been planning for this. They think it's in their political interest and they want it to be as painful as possible to Americans to make Republicans look bad," the Family Research Council's David Christensen said.

Polls show the administration's public relations war is somewhat successful, with 62 percent of Americans saying Republicans are mostly responsible for the shutdown.

But more than half also say the president and the Democrats bear some of the blame. Obama's approval rating has dropped to 37 percent, with 57 percent Americans disapproving of how he is doing his job.

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CBN News
Gary Lane

Gary Lane

CBN News

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