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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Congress fails family of fallen Iowa soldier

I have often said that politics and political games should not come before helping our troops, yet, once again it does. This time, in the Democrats need to thwart anything that a Republican offers up, they have now starting hurting our troops childen.

This is unacceptable.

Hat Tip to Brian from Iowa Voice for the email.

From the Des Moines

Susan Jaenke traveled to Washington last month to ask lawmakers for help after her daughter was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Before her death, Navy reservist Jaime Jaenke wrote a letter to her mother, telling her she wanted the military's $100,000 "death gratuity" to be given to her parents to help raise her daughter, Kayla.

But the law requires money to go first to a spouse or child. Kayla - not her grandparents - collected the $100,000, which goes into a trust until she's 18.

Jaime Jaenke's military paychecks had been helping the family make ends meet. When she died, the money stopped coming. Now the grandparents can't use the death benefit to cover expenses for Kayla, who is 10.

It's an obvious case of the law not working for families - families whose loved ones died in the line of duty. It an obvious problem Congress needs to fix.

But it's also painfully obvious there is something wrong in Washington. Partisan politics have prevented this Iowa family and others like it from getting help.

Lawmakers should put aside politics and help the people they were elected to serve.

In February, Iowa Republican Rep. Tom Latham introduced a bill to allow service members to designate a parent, brother or sister who has custody of a service member's minor child as the recipient of the death benefit.

Passing it is a no-brainer. Like the Jaenkes, more than 140 families around the country have had trouble collecting benefits to help care for the children of fallen soldiers, Latham says. Lawmakers even apologized to Susan Jaenke after she testified.

But apparently being sorry doesn't trump partisan bickering in Congress.

On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee voted straight down party lines to block consideration of Latham's bill. Nine Democrats voted against it; four Republicans for it. Every Republican-proposed amendment was killed, according to James Carstensen, director of communications for Latham.

The vote "speaks volumes about how blind partisanship continues to block consideration of this legislation - legislation which is not controversial other than the author has an R behind his name in a body controlled by those with a D behind their names," he said.

So... hurt a child and children across the country because you cannot stand to see a Republican suggested bill pass that helps these families.

What happened to the Democrats "claims" that they support our troops? That they want to help their families?

This was a perfect opportunity for members to work together in a completely bipartisan manner for the good of the children that are left behind when something happens to their parents.

Once again our Democratically controlled congress breaks yet another promise, only this time, it is a child that suffers for their incessant need to play a political game.