Why Congress gave $174,000 to Dianne Feinstein’s wealthy daughter as part of a recent bill to avert a government shutdown

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  • The most recent state funding bill includes $174,000 for Dianne Feinstein’s daughter.
  • It is a tradition known as the “Death Gift” that has been practiced for at least 140 years.
  • Congress has spent more than $5 million on death gifts since 2000.

Both houses of Congress He voted to avoid a government shutdown Earlier this month, Bill was not the only voter to keep the lights on.

They were also giving $174,000 to daughter Katherine Feinstein. The late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

As stated in Section 146 President Joe Biden The Continuing Benefits and Other Extensions Act, signed into law on November 16:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, provision is made for fiscal year 2024 to pay beneficiary Katherine Ann Feinstein, a deceased California state senator. .

But Katherine Feinstein, the only child of a former San Francisco judge and recently deceased California Democrat, certainly doesn’t need that money.

Her mother caught it. Tens of millions of dollars worth of propertyShe has been engaged together, making her one of the richest members of Congress, and Catherine Prolonged debate In her mother’s possessions and even The power of attorney was taken More than the late long-serving senator – he may have a significant share of the fortune.

So why did Congress give her $174,000? The answer appears to be something known as the “gift of death.”

Culture for at least 140 years

According to experts, the death grant — a payment to the surviving family of a member of the House or Senate who dies in office — has its roots in earlier American history, when life insurance was less common.

It is a matter of culture rather than law.

of National Taxpayers Union Foundation — a fiscally conservative advocacy group — suggested the first payment in 1880, when Congress appropriated $6,000 to Rep. Alfred Leigh pays widow to Missouri Democrat who died in office last year.

But the group said these payments may have been made earlier than that.

The stipend, which is paid regardless of the individual wealth of the recipients, was originally intended to support the spouses or families of deceased lawmakers.

These days, the death gratuity is equivalent to a year’s salary — $174,000 for ranking lawmakers, $193,400 for the majority and minority leaders and $223,500 for the House speaker.

It’s more than what families of dead soldiers get — and it’s tax-free.

When a military member dies in the line of service, they are the surviving family members. He paid $100,000. – Slightly more than half of what legislators get.

Death gifts to both lawmakers and members of the military are considered gifts, and are tax-free.

As of 2011 Related section American law:

Any death benefit payment made under any Act of Congress or from the accounts of the House of Representatives or from the Auxiliary Fund of the Senate shall be considered a gift.

It is somewhat controversial.

Groups like NTUF argue that the practice is wasteful. Calling “Availability of Retirement Savings and Life Insurance Options in the Modern Past.”

In the year By 2021, NTUF calculates that gratuity has cost taxpayers more than $5.1 million since 2000.

Previous recipients have included family members of some of the wealthiest lawmakers, including Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.

“This is a Senate tradition that we do,” said former Sen. Richard Shelby. He told Roll Call. After McCain’s death in 2018. “We do what we have to do, we do the right thing.”

And as in Feinstein’s case, sometimes payments are passed on completely unrelated, must-pass legislation.

In the year In 2013, the widow of Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey was given a death sentence as part of legislation to avoid defaulting on the national debt, according to ABC News. specifying the payment as one An example of the cost of “pork”.

Rep. Bill Posey of Florida, a fiscally conservative Republican, has introduced bills banning the fees several times during his tenure.

In a 2011 press release, Pos He argued The tradition is “difficult to explain, especially when every American buys their own life insurance.”

“This issue is about the proper use of taxpayer resources and about returning the Legislature to a place of trust in the public eye,” Posey said at the time.

Business Insider reached out to Katherine Feinstein through her attorneys, but did not receive a response.

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