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Government shutdown affecting military death benefits: Charity steps up

Government shutdown affecting military: Fisher House Foundation has offered to pay the military death benefit of $100,000 while the government shutdown continues.

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Carney said the Pentagon told lawmakers before the shutdown that the death benefit payments were not covered by the bill and would be cut off during a shutdown. However, he repeatedly refused to say when the president was first told that death benefits would not be paid.

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A senior administration official said Obama raised his concerns about the stoppage in payments Tuesday night during an evening walk around the White House grounds with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough. He directed McDonough to get the problem solved within 24 hours.

The Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget developed a solution overnight allowing Fisher House to enter into a rush agreement essentially making the organization a government contractor that could deliver the benefits, the official said.

The administration and defense officials both insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the offer publicly by name.

Amid the controversy, Hagel made a rare trip Wednesday to Dover Air Force Base for the arrival of remains of four soldiers killed in Afghanistan. The remains of every U.S. military member killed overseas are flown to Dover for processing. Family members attend the arrival, but the secretary of defense usually does not.

Among the soldiers whose remains were brought to Dover on Wednesday was Pfc. Cody J. Patterson, 24, of Philomath, Ore. Patterson's family allowed members of the media to witness the return of his remains, but an Army liaison officer who works with mortuary officials at Dover said the family did not want to talk to reporters.

The other soldiers whose remains were returned were 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25, of San Diego, Calif.; Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, 25, of Carlisle, Pa.; and Sgt. Joseph M. Peters, 24, of Springfield, Mo. In a statement Tuesday, US Army Special Operations Command said Hawkins and Patterson were members of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and Peters was a special agent assigned to the 286th Military Police Detachment.

Hagel put his hand over his heart as white-gloved soldiers carried the flag-draped case carrying Patterson's remains from a C-17 cargo plane to a white panel truck for transfer to the Dover mortuary.

Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper in Washington and Randall Chase in Dover, Del., contributed to this report.

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