Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) says Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel should resign for failing to ensure that the families of fallen American soldiers received the death benefits to which they are entitled.”I think Chuck Hagel needs it to think about offering his resignation over this,” Hunter told Fox News’s Megyn Kelly Thursday night. “Because he’s the one who’s at the top of this food chain and broke the sacred trust with these families. These military families were not pawns to be played with by this administration to make political points. And that’s exactly what happened in this situation.”The Pentagon normally pays $100,000 within three days of a soldier’s death to cover funeral costs and travel expenses for survivors. The Defense Department suspended that payment after the partial government shutdown began, saying it was not authorized to pay troops’ families.

But members of Congress said the Pay Our Military Act, which passed just before the “shutdown,” gave the Pentagon broad authority to make necessary payments, including military death benefits.

On Wednesday, the White House insisted that the Defense Department had informed Congress — before the “shutdown” — that military death benefits would not be covered if funding ran out. But a White House spokesman could not or would not say when President Obama learned about the problem.