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Connolly-Rooney bill to assure veteran death benefits never subject to Congressional inaction

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) have introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure our nation always meets its obligation to the grieving families of service members who have died in service to their country.

The Connolly-Rooney bill (H.R. 3352) would provide a permanent appropriation of funds for immediate payment of military death benefits to survivors of deceased military service members during any period of lapsed appropriations, which is often referred to as a “government shutdown.”

“I was outraged by reports during the government shutdown that the families of more than a dozen U.S. service members who were killed in action after Oct. 1, were initially denied death benefits as a result of the federal government shutdown,” Connolly was quoted as saying in a news release. “We have a sacred trust with every man or woman who dons the uniform in defense of our nation, and we have a duty to provide funds quickly to help the families of those who make the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We cannot allow political posturing in Congress or other efforts that force a government shutdown to prevent the flow of funds and other needed resources to families who have just lost a service member.  We must honor our commitment, no matter what.”

The longstanding purpose of the death benefit is to assist families of deceased service members in meeting their financial needs during the period immediately following a service member’s death and before other survivor benefits become available.

These payments are delivered within three days of a service member’s death so families do not have their grief compounded by worrying about the financial stress of covering the immediate expenses of flying to meet their loved one’s remains at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware or arranging funeral and burial services, Connolly and Rooney noted.

The Connolly-Rooney bill will ensure these benefits are never subject to Congressional inaction. The sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform and their families do not cease just because Congress cannot do its job and neither should this important financial support for them, the congressmen said.

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