Republicans blocked a bill on Wednesday seen by many as a bipartisan deathblow, intended to expand some benefits to veterans due to the toxic exposure they were exposed to while deployed, leaving many veterans and their supporters in shock.
The PACT Code, A bill that would have expanded VA health care to assume that veterans whose military service involved exposing them to incineration pits — digging large trenches to burn and dispose of sewage, medical waste, and other rubbish — would be victims of exposure to toxic substances and fumes as they appeared. with certain diseases. The bill would have removed the burden of proof for veterans who currently need to show it in order to receive assistance.
Both houses of Congress previously approved the bill with the Senate voting it 84-14 in June in favor, but the bill was forced to vote again after “administrative matters” were found in its text. After the changes were made, it was expected to pass through Congress and Biden would sign it into law.
However, 25 Republican senators overturned their votes and blocked the bill on Wednesday.
Supporters and activists, such as former talk show host Jon Stewart, who gathered at the Capitol in hopes of celebrating after the bill was passed, were met with frustration instead. On Thursday, Stewart and others joined lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to forcefully call on Republicans to vote on the bill.
“They don’t have to hear it, they don’t have to see it, and they don’t have to understand that these are human beings,” Stewart said in A Speech at the Capitol on Thursday.
With the final tally in the Senate Wednesday at 55-42 (three abstaining) the exact reason for the Republican coup, that they Claim It has nothing to do with the focus of the bill, but rather how the money is allocated and managed.
Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pen), who led the opposition to the bill, has expressed a desire for an amendment focused on budget spending.
Tonight, the Senate voted to give us the opportunity to fix a completely unnecessary budget gimmick in the PACT bill’s body text. This ploy allows $400 billion to be spent unrelated to veterans’ care. pic.twitter.com/TAuE12G8l0
Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) 27 July 2022
“There is a mechanism created in this law, it is a budget gimmick, intended to make possible a massive explosion in irrelevant spending – $400 billion. This budget gimmick is not,” Tommy said on the Senate floor on Wednesday. It has to do with the actual budget issue which has to do with the burn holes that it’s not even on the house bill.”
Tommy said CNN He wants the bill to be funded through an annual appropriations process, rather than the current mandatory spending structure.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he also does not support a “budget gimmick” but does support the bill.
“As written, the legislation would not only help American veterans as it was designed. It could also allow Democrats to effectively spend the same money twice and enable hundreds of billions of new, irrelevant spending on the discretionary side of the federal budget,” Thursday. There is no excuse why the Democratic leader should continue to block Senator Tommy Hakim’s amendment. A bill this important and this bipartisan deserves that we fix this accounting trick, and then it deserves to become law. ”
The question remains why more than two dozen Republicans, many of them veterans, voted for her last month, but turned against this week. According to some Democrats, the bill was blocked for political expediency.
Senator Chris Murphy (Democrat from Connection), Argues Instead, Republicans took their ire from a separate bill on the PACTS Act. Democrats are trying to push Inflation reduction lawwhich is history 369 billion dollars Over the next ten years to tackle climate change, health care, inflation and taxes.
“The least favorable explanation is this,” Murphy said. Because that’s the other thing that has changed in the past three weeks. Republicans thought Democrats wouldn’t be able to pass a bill that would require companies to pay a little more, to tackle climate change. Yesterday, news came out that there was an agreement making it likely that the climate change bill would go ahead on the Senate floor, magically flipping 30 votes.”
Democrats say the shift came in response to the minor bills, which are expected to be voted on this week.
The Democratic candidate for an open seat in the Missouri Senate, Lucas Consci, echoed the sentiment in an interview with Vox. “They voted for it the first time, they changed because they wanted to protest a separate bill which I understand,” he said. Konsi served three tours each in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine Corps officer It was published in Iraq, where it was stationed near it burning pit and development of a After nasal drip due to exposure.
As Vox’s Li Zhou recently reported that Republicans don’t do They want to pass the Inflation Reduction Act and need unanimous support to stop it. Given that Biden went out in praise of her, The bill has a high probability of being passed.
What is a bill, and why is it important
Staff Sergeant Heath Robinson delivers on our promise to tackle comprehensive poison lawalso known as the PACT Act, was introduced in June by Representative Mark Takano (D-CA), who chairs The House Committee on Veterans Affairs, with the goal of addressing and funding health care, research, and other matters relating to veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances while on duty.
The bill has two main components — a grace period for veterans who served near burns to get medical care, and legislation that tells the VA how to treat certain diseases and cancers. Veterans will not have to prove that their illnesses are directly related to pit burn exposure to receive disability and assistance payments. Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs has denied 70% of all disability claims for burn exposure due to veterans’ inability to prove illnesses or cancers associated with a burn exposure.
Cancers and other issues allegedly linked to burns could come years later, as happened to Staff Sgt. Heath Robinson for whom the bill is named. Robinson died in 2020 of rare lung cancer, which he attributed to exposure to smoke during its spread in Iraq in 2006 and 2007.
Konsi said he felt that many in the armed forces assumed they would not be placed in such a precarious situation. “[It was] Maybe it’s a stupid assumption, said Konsi, but… you should trust the system first and foremost. “Second, you don’t have a choice, do you? I mean, there you are, there’s nothing else you can do.”
Robinson’s wife, an advocate for victims of burn exposure who are denied benefits, attended President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address earlier this year in which he offered his support for promoting veterans benefits as part of a so-called bipartisanship. unit agenda Which focuses, among other things, on commitment to veterans by fulfilling promises made regarding health care, mental health, and homelessness.
The PACT Act also plays a role in the broader debate taking place around veterans’ rights. In June, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in favor of a veteran whose case was related to exposure to a burning pit in Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety. The ruling allows US Army veteran Lou Roy Torres to sue the state of Texas after he lost his job due to an injury sustained while serving.
Activists, lawmakers and veterans alike are calling for more action, with some even calling the vote criminal as they criticize Republicans for blocking the bill.
“Wait a minute. It’s not going to help our veterans, because we want to: lower the cost of prescription drugs, and the cost of healthcare, to protect the planet. Of course, you don’t agree with any of those things, but are you going to use that to vote against our veterans? It’s unethical.” Really, it’s almost criminal.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Another procedural vote is scheduled for Monday, but Schumer can technically summon the Senate for a vote at any time. In light of the holiday starting on August 5th, timing will be key.