Sinema Introduces Bill Honoring Arizona Fallen Federal Civil Servants & Their Families

Oct 18, 2023

Senator’s bipartisan legislation ensures fair benefits for family survivors of federal civil servants who die in the line of duty

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema introduced the Honoring Civil Servants Killed in the Line of Duty Act – bipartisan legislation honoring fallen federal civil servants who die in the line of duty by ensuring their survivors receive fair benefits.

“Surviving family members of federal workers who die in the line of duty should receive fair and full benefits. We’re honoring their sacrifice to keep our country safe and secure,” said Sinema, a member of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee.

“NTEU strongly supports the Honoring Civil Servants Killed in the Line of Duty Act sponsored by Sen. Sinema. The families of federal employees who die on the job should receive survivor benefits that reflect the employees’ service and sacrifice, and this proposal honors their memories by updating and expanding those benefits,” said Doreen Greenwald, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union.

“This legislation would improve and expand unfair death gratuities for survivors of federal employees killed in the line of duty. The current rates have not kept up with the times, staying static since 1997, and the funeral allowance hasn’t changed since 1966. This important legislation recognizes the dangers federal employees subject themselves to when serving their fellow Americans and will help ensure their families and loved ones will be treated fairly if they make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” said Craig Carter, National President of the Federal Managers Association.

“Threats against federal law enforcement are rising at an alarming rate. As we learned last year when an individual attempted to break into an FBI facility armed with an AR15-style rifle, these threats are real and may have lethal consequences. In the last five years, the Department of Justice reported more than 100 death threats against AUSAs and their families. Attorney General Garland has reported significant increases in these threats in the last year and, unfortunately, federal prosecutors have reported being harassed and assaulted by criminal defendants to our organization. It is critical the federal government honors and supports any federal employee who is subjected to attack for their official position. This legislation establishes a uniform regime for compensating those who make the ultimate sacrifice. It is a necessary reform that recognizes the unwavering dedication of federal personnel,” said Steve Wasserman, President of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys

“This February will mark 13 years since a disgruntled taxpayer collided his small plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, resulting in the tragic death of IRS manager Vernon Hunter and thousands of injuries. Unfortunately, threats against IRS employees, and employees across the federal government, continue to occur. It is about time Congress recognize the very real dangers of federal employment and honor employees killed in the line of duty adequately. This legislation provides families and survivors critical comfort during their time of need and should be unanimously passed into law,” said the Professional Managers Association.

“Every day federal law enforcement officers and agents are the targets of attack by terrorist, criminals, and hostile actors at home and abroad. In the last year, threats against federal law enforcement have risen dramatically. Unfortunately, if one of these threats materializes into a tragic fatality, the federal government lacks a uniform death benefits system to ensure the brave officer or agent who sacrificed their life is compensated. This gap in the law has devastating consequences for family members who must now face financial and emotional strain at the same time. This legislation solves that problem to ensure all survivors of federal employees killed in the line of duty are entitled to equal and robust financial benefits to honor their lost public servants,” said Larry Cosme, National President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

“All too often, federal employees have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Federal workers who safeguard our air travel, inspect our food supply, care for the sick, secure our prisons and borders, and many others face danger every day. Their loss is not only tragic but can leave their families destitute, without earnings or savings. The bipartisan ‘Honoring Civil Servants Killed in the Line of Duty Act,’ sponsored by Senators Sinema and Hagerty, helps repay America’s debt to our fallen heroes by providing a modest lifeline to those left behind. I urge swift passage of this compassionate bill,” saidDr. Everett Kelley, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO.

“Federal employees regularly are on the front lines during natural and manmade disasters, serve in the world’s most volatile areas, and face threats by criminal actors targeting the U.S. government. Tragically, this work has resulted in thousands of line of duty deaths in just the last 30 years. Yet as crime, disasters, and financial instability rises, Congress has not risen federal death benefits and funeral allowances in more than 50 years. This legislation is critical for reforming the patchwork of death gratuity benefits across federal agencies that causes too many surviving families to receive inadequate assistance. SEA encourages lawmakers to join in supporting this legislation that, at its heart, acknowledges the sacrifice that is public service,” said Marcus Hill, President of the Senior Executive Association.

“It is far past the time to update the death benefits for federal employees who are killed in the line of duty. In an increasingly dangerous world, the current funeral benefit of $800 set in the Johnson Administration is a sad joke. Likewise, the survivor benefit of $10,000 is also insulting and hardly enough to see a surviving family through a tragic period of loss. The increase to death benefits does not impact discretionary budgets, and it will ensure that future incidents involving the ultimate sacrifice of federal workers will not be devalued again. This is not a partisan issue. Let’s get this done quickly,” said Randy Erwin, National President of the National Federation of Federal Employees.

“It has been over twenty-five years since the last time death gratuities were raised for postal and federal employees who died in the line of duty, and over fifty years since funeral expenses were raised. We are long past due to provide for the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We are grateful to the Senator for recognizing the need to support families during this overwhelming time of financial insecurity,” said Paul V. Hogrogian, National President of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.

Sinema’s legislation provides a benefit to the survivors of federal civil servants who die in the line of duty. Survivors of those killed while in the foreign service and defense already receive a one-time benefit acknowledging their death was a result of serving their country. Sinema’s bill improves the policy for other civil servants, including first responders.