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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Washington (AFP) – President Barack Obama demanded immediate action after learning the U.S. government shutdown had cut off death benefits to relatives of war dead, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Obama expected a solution by the end of Wednesday, Jay Carney said, adding the U.S. leader was “disturbed” to find out the payments had stopped after budget funds for the Pentagon dried up.

The move followed media reports about the plight of four families who recently lost relatives serving in Afghanistan and were not able to access $100,000 in death benefits, housing allowances and financing for burial costs after the government closed a week ago.

“The president was very disturbed to learn of this problem and he directed the Department of Defense to work with the Office of Management and Budget and his lawyers to develop a possible solution,” Carney said.  “The president expects this to be fixed today.”

Carney said the Pentagon had previously informed Congress that it would be legally unable to pay death benefits should the government close.

He also accused Republicans of causing the problem by shutting down federal operations by not passing a new budget before October 1, and for not including the provision in a bill already signed by Obama to ensure soldiers on deployment still get paid during the shutdown.

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