- Peter Kinder resigns federal agency post, concludes position unnecessary and waste of tax dollars (6/16/18)2
- Stormy Daniels to visit East Cape Girardeau (6/13/18)20
- Longtime downtown Cape bartender Marcellus Jones remembered by friends (6/12/18)2
- Committee to start planning process for indoor aquatic center in Cape (6/20/18)1
- A community rallies behind Honorable Young Men's Club (6/16/18)1
- Southeast to spend $150,000 to refresh brand with Ohio firm (6/19/18)6
- New urban dance studio opens on Broadway (6/15/18)2
- Jackson natives compete in 260-mile canoe race (6/16/18)1
- Couple charged in beating death at Brick's (6/13/18)
- Mother, child reportedly hit by car in Cape Girardeau (6/18/18)
House doubles troops' death benefit
WASHINGTON -- Families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would receive a $12,000 death payment -- double the current benefit and tax free -- under a bill the House passed Wednesday.
The payment would go to soldiers killed after Sept. 10, 2001. The House expects the expansion to cost $122 million more over the next 10 years, including $35 million next year. The goal is to help families defray the immediate costs of funerals.
"It's unconscionable to me that a knock on the door by a military chaplain is followed by a knock on the door from the tax man," said Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas. "Sadly, this is the case."
The House voted unanimously, 413-0, to pass the bill as the latest attacks on American soldiers in Iraq brought the combat death toll during the occupation higher than the number killed before President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1. The current benefit is $6,000.
"This is long overdue," said Rep. Michael McNulty, D-N.Y.
The House and Senate passed several bills granting a variety of tax benefits to military personnel and reservists this year. The bills all differed slightly, and lawmakers have been unable to reconcile their differences.
House lawmakers passed the death gratuity bill again, hoping it will becoming law more quickly.
Military and reserve associations have started to increase their pressure on lawmakers to pass the legislation as the end of the year draws near.
"Pardon my skepticism," said Joyce Raezer, director of government relations for the National Military Family Association, "but we've watched one house take the initiative on an issue, only to have it stop at that house and not go to the other one."
"We're amazed that it's taken so long," she said.