Senate Chaplain Barry Black on Wednesday chided members of Congress for allowing a shutdown that denies death benefits to fallen servicemembers.
"Lord, when our federal shutdown delays payments of death benefits to the families of children dying on far-away battlefields, it's time for our lawmakers to say enough is enough," Black said during his morning prayer, a daily Senate ritual. "Cover our shame with the robe of your righteousness."
Black, a Seventh-Day Adventist, is a retired vice admiral. In recent days, he has used his daily platform to take senators to task for refusing to compromise and find a way to reopen the government. His remarks Wednesday came in the wake of a series of NBC News reports detailing the military’s delay of “death gratuities” designed to assist with funeral and travel costs until after the shutdown ends.
His Wednesday prayer was enough to prompt a response from Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who spoke a few minutes later.
"Because the government is shut down, that awful knock on the door was not followed by the consolation of this government helping these families," Durbin said.
"What Dr. Black said to all of us this morning, all of those who believe that a government shutdown is just another political gambit, what he said, we should remember, and his words were direct and simple. Enough is enough. Enough is enough," Durbin said.