After coming under intense pressure, President Obama signed a bill restoring death gratuities to families of fallen military, NBC News reported Thursday. Obama's signature came after White House press secretary Jay Carney said such a bill was unnecessary since the Fisher House, a private organization, said it would do the job the Obama administration refused to do.
"The legislation is not necessary,” Carney said, adding that the Defense Department has already agreed to reimburse the Fisher House.
"It does mean that we don’t need legislation,” he added.
Carney's statement didn't sit well with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
"Now, we're learning the president has taken his political obstinacy to a new low and believes the legislation Congress has passed to right this wrong is 'not necessary,'" he said. "Not only is this legislation necessary it's the moral obligation of this nation and it's the spoken will of Congress that we deliver immediate assistance to the families of fallen service members."
"I call on the president to sign this necessary legislation without delay. Anything less would represent dereliction of duty by our commander in chief," he added in a written statement.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the man who started the partial government shutdown with his obstinate refusal to consider any GOP proposal to keep the government open, also said the legislation passed by the House was "moot."
"The Department of Defense stepped forward and took care of everything. And so this issue is largely moot," he said. "It’s clear the action on this legislation is now just for show here. We all agreed that it was a bad thing that the government shutdown led to this added grief for the families who had suffered such a terrible loss. Now we need to do what we can to prevent any further bad results -- and there have been plenty of them -- in other areas. The right thing to do is to prevent more of these in other areas, and the House should just vote and open the government. The issues have been taken care of and it's terrible that we even got to this point."
Reid, however, didn't object when the Senate passed the measure by unanimous voice vote Thursday.
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