by Bill Gertz
In a move House critics say is cynical Washington politics, the Pentagon is improperly refusing to pay death benefits to military survivors despite recent legislation authorizing the gratuity.
Unidentified Pentagon officials were quoted in several sensational broadcast news reports on Tuesday as saying the government shutdown had prevented paying the $100,000 death gratuity to families of those killed in combat. The reports quoted no Pentagon officials by name.
The reports sparked outrage among congressional Democrats and liberal Republicans who blamed Congress and demanded an end to the government shutdown.
However, congressional aides told the Washington Free Beacon that the Pentagon never notified Congress that it would decline to make death payments to survivors of military personnel.
“We think they’re playing politics with the shutdown,” said one senior aide.