WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) together with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.)today announced they have introduced legislation to ensure that federal employees who are killed in the line of duty receive death gratuities and funeral expenses. Based on a report from the Office of Personnel Management, families were receiving $10,000 on the death of a loved one killed while serving their country. The $800 they received for a funeral was taken out of the lump sum gratuity, and the amount received had not been updated since 1966.
“I’m fighting on the front lines on behalf of federal employees just as hard as federal employees work each and every day on behalf of the American people,” Senator Mikulski said. “If you are working hard every day for your country and you are killed in doing that duty, your country should do all it can to thank you. Federal employees have been undervalued and underappreciated for too long. Each and every day, federal employees stand up for America. That’s why I continue to stand up for federal employees.”
"Federal employees are hard-working, dedicated, and patriotic public servants. Even civilian employees often are put in harm’s way, and federal employees have been killed on American soil," said Senator Cardin. "I’m proud to co-sponsor this long-overdue bill to update and standardize the death gratuity and funeral expenses. It’s the least we can do for the families of those federal workers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation."
“So many of our federal employees go above and beyond the call of duty every day to keep the government running, usually with little recognition and less fanfare. One of the small things we can do to show federal employees that their service is valued is ensure that their families will be fairly compensated if they are somehow killed in the line of duty. It’s simply the right thing to do,” said Senator Warner.
Maryland and Virginia are two of the states with the highest number of federal employees living and working in them. On average, 24 federal civilian employees are killed in the line of duty every year. The Death Gratuity Equity Act will ensure a standard minimum payment of $100,000 across all departments for any federal civilian employee killed in the line of duty. It will also allow up to $8,800 for funeral expenses in addition to the death gratuity, and neither amount can be taxed by the IRS. Both amounts are also tied to automatic cost-of-living adjustments. Additionally, more types of federal service will be included under death gratuities, including postal workers, census workers, Job Corps students, and Peace Corps volunteers.
In 2014, Senator Mikulski was able to provide death gratuities for the State Department employees killed in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Two Marylanders were killed in that attack, Julian Bartley, Sr. and his son, Jay.