Just hours before the Senate voted to approve a measure that was passed by the House on Wednesday in a 425-0 vote to restore the death benefits paid to the families of fallen soldiers, liberal radio talk show host Bill Press showed his true colors when he said it would be a “big mistake” for the government to do that because “once the government starts making special exceptions, it allows the shutdown to continue.”
In a stumble similar to one Senate majority leader Harry Reid made last week, when the Nevada Democrat accused CNN reporter Dana Bash of being “irresponsible” and “reckless” for asking if he would help “one child who has cancer” and is receiving treatment through the NIH, Press stated: “When you shut down the government, a lot of great things are not going to get done, and why should we make an exception for those that just happen to pop up and get a lot of media attention?”
The liberal host on the Free Speech TV channel began his morning rant by declaring:
What I’m going to say, no one else will say, but I want to say it anyway. It will probably upset you.
“I think it’s a big mistake to pay the death benefits to the families of members of the military who are killed in Afghanistan and whose bodies are being brought back to Dover Air Force base and were not going to get benefits because of the government shutdown,” Press asserted.
“Our brave men and women put their lives on the line,” he continued. “Many of the families can't afford to give them a decent farewell, and the government always takes care of that program” until it was halted as part of the government shutdown.
After noting that the Pentagon had warned Congress ahead of time about the lack of funds needed to continue the system, which gives spouses and families of service members who die $100,000 as well as other benefits, such as the cost of burial, travel and housing, Press singled out the GOP as the culprits behind the crisis.
Republicans didn't listen. Republicans did it anyway. And then, once they realized what they'd done, they started blaming president Obama. “We had to make an exception for that just like we had to make an exception for air traffic controllers, we have to make an exception for the World War II Memorial.”
“Yesterday, [White House press secretary] Jay Carney said that when the president himself heard about this, he told his people to fix it,” Press continued before praising the Fisher House Foundation. He then said the organization had “stepped up to the plate” and is paying the benefits until the government shutdown is over and the foundation is reimbursed.
“So the whole thing was fixed without an act of Congress,” he stated before noting other government functions that are not currently being funded. As Press stated:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to stop its seasonal flu prevention program. They're not re-opening that. Why not? Isn't that important?
The WIC [Women, Infants and Children] program provides healthy food supplements for millions of pregnant women, new mothers and babies We're not doing anything about that.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is stopping most of its inspections of the workplace. The Food and Drug Administration is not able to continue its food safety and nutrition activities. The National Institutes of Health are canceling new cancer trials.
“There's a lot of important stuff that's not going on,” he added before recommending that the GOP give in and pass a “clean” Continuing Resolution, which would include funding for ObamaCare.
During the federal government shutdown, House Republicans have passed bills to fund the more politically damaging elements of the closure. However, Reid had refused to being them to votes in the Senate, not wanting to lessen the impact of shutdown and relieve pressure on Republicans.
That was until Thursday, when the Senate approved by a voice vote the House's legislation to restore military death benefits even though Reid said the measure was “unnecessary” because benefits were already flowing from the Fisher House Foundation.
This issue is largely moot. It's clear the action on this legislation is just for show.
Interestingly, Reid was a guest on Press's show last week, when he explained the Democrats' strategy:
We can't fall into the trap, and here is the trap of the [Texas senator Ted] Cruz-led Republicans, and that is this: Listen, we'll cherry-pick, we'll open this today and this tomorrow, and finally at the end, everything will be open except the money to finish ObamaCare.
Also on Thursday, John Cornyn of Texas -- the second-ranking Senate Republican -- explained that he pushed for the measure because he was concerned about legal issues that might arise from the special contract the Pentagon has made with Fisher House.
However, Carney said that president Obama opposes the legislation. "Our view has been, this piecemeal funding is, again, a gimmick."
Nevertheless, the shutdown has demonstrated several federal programs that are truly needed and others that aren't. It's a shame that the president and the Senate want everything passed before they'll negotiate with the Republicans, when that becomes a pointless exercise.