White House won’t say when Obama knew of blocked military pay benefits

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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White House spokesman Jay Carney ducked, dodged and dived to avoid telling reporters when President Barack Obama knew his Pentagon was not paying death benefits to the families of soldiers killed in combat against the jihadis.

Instead, Carney insisted the problem was caused by the GOP majority in the House, while also claiming the problem could be solved by White House lawyers without any change in the law.

“I don’t know specifically … when he learned that these benefits were not explicitly dealt with in the [Pay Our Military] Act,” Carney said when he was asked by Fox News to say when the president learned about the problem.

Obama signed the Pay Our Military Act into law Sept. 30.

Carney the admitted that there was no legal barrier blocking benefits to the families.

The pending fix “does not involve legislation … [and] we will have a solution to this problem today,” he said.

“The president has directed the OMB and his lawyers to find a solution to this,” he insisted.

The problem emerged earlier this week, when the Pentagon blamed “the shutdown” when it said it could not send benefits to the soldiers’ families.

“As a result of the shutdown, we do not have the legal authority to make death gratuity payments at this time,” said a Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen.

“We are keeping a close eye on those survivors who have lost loved ones,” he said.

After the Pentagon claim, the GOP majority in the House quickly drafted another bill to explicitly approve funding for the soldiers’ families.

Carney said the new bill was unneeded, and reiterated the president’s demand that Congress fund all agencies of the federal government without seeking any reforms to the troubled Obamacare takeover of the nation’s health sector.

Reporters pressed Carney to name a date when Obama learned from his deputies of the supposed legislative problem hindering the payment of death benefits.

But Carney repeatedly evaded the questions.

“He was disturbed, and he asked his lawyers and the [Office of Management and Budget] to work on a solution, and we expect to get a solution today,” he repeated.

“When he learned about it … he directed those who work for him to find a solution,” Carney said next.

“When the president learned that this issue had not been explicitly [fixed] in the Pay our Military act, he was disturbed and he asked those who work for him to find a solution … and we expect a solution today,” he claimed.

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