February 15, 2018

Cortez Masto Joins Colleagues in Introducing Families of Fallen Service Members First Act

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), joined Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), along with Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) yesterday in introducing the bipartisan Families of Fallen Service Members First Act to ensure service member death benefits are paid during government shutdowns. When service members perished during government shutdowns in 2013 and 2018, their families were initially denied military death benefits. This legislation would provide a permanent appropriation of funds to immediately pay military death benefits to survivors of service members killed during any future government shutdown.

“Providing for our service members and their families should be above partisan fights in Congress,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “There should never be any question of our commitment to honor our troops, particularly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. That is why I am proud to ensure that their families receive the necessary support and financial assistance they need during such a tragic time as the loss of a loved one. A government shutdown should not stand in the way of military family members getting the support they deserve.”


The longstanding purpose of the military death gratuity payment is to assist families of deceased service members in meeting their financial needs during the period immediately following a service member's death and before other survivor benefits become available.

The benefits covered by this legislation include:

  • Death gratuities for survivors of deceased military service members.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • Authorized funeral travel, including to dignified transfer ceremonies.
  • A temporary continuation of a basic allowance for housing (BAH) for dependents.

Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) introduced the same bill in the House of Representatives.