Personal donations offered to pick up slack in government funding

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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As government funding locks up in Congress, philanthropists are offering to step in to take up the slack with donations to fund government programs until the shutdown ends.

After it was reported Tuesday that the shutdown would prevent death benefits from being provided to families of soldiers killed in combat, the Fisher House Foundation offered an “advance grant” to make sure those benefits are covered.

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced the plan.

“This afternoon, I spoke to Ken Fisher, the CEO of the Fisher House Foundation,” Manchin wrote. “The Fisher House Foundation humbly volunteered to offer the families an advance grant to ensure there is no funding gap during the most difficult of times, with the understanding that reimbursements would be made at an appropriate time.”

“The Fisher House will fund flights, hotels and other incidentals for all family members,” he said.

The Foundation provides homes and helps with air travel to enable family members to be near wounded or sick service members.

The “death gratuity” is a $100,000 check sent to the family of the deceased service member within 72 hours of his or her death, and it is intended to help cover the immediate costs like funeral services, and to help ease the financial burden. Reports that it would not be paid have angered senators. Speaking on the floor Tuesday, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said all lawmakers should be “ashamed” and “embarrassed” that they caused a situation where those benefits could not be paid.

On Monday, billionaire couple John and Laura Arnold offered $10 million to fund the seven Head Start programs that had been shuttered as a result of the shutdown. Head Start provides education programs for children under the age of five.

The money will help the programs reopen in the immediate future and, The Washington Post reports , will be repaid with interest when a government funding bill finally passes.

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