Amid protests, Senate stands ready to pass health care for vets exposed to toxic burns


After a series of delays and emotional protests, the Senate is expected to vote Tuesday night on a bill that would help veterans exposed to toxic fire pits.

Schumer announced that the Senate will begin voting on the PACT bill at 5 p.m., voting on three Republican amendments before a vote on the bill’s final approval. Republicans approved the deal.

“I believe it will pass tonight,” Schumer said at his weekly press conference.

The PACT bill was passed by the Senate earlier this year, but after a quick resolution in the House required the bill to be voted on again, 26 Republican senators changed their vote last week and blocked the bill’s rapid passage, leading to sparked outrage among Democrats and veterans groups.

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Comedian and activist Jon Stewart has become the face of this legislation, joining veterans protesting outside the Capitol in recent days. He harshly criticized Republicans and demanded action from lawmakers.

“The American heroes who fought outside in our wars were sweating with oxygen and fighting all sorts of ailments,” while Republican senators “sat in the walled-in air-conditioning,” Stewart said at a Capitol press conference on Thursday. “They don’t have to hear it, they don’t have to see it. They don’t have to understand that these are people.”

Senate Pat Toomey leaves the Senate chambers during a nomination vote at the US Capitol Building in Washington, August 1, 2022. The US Senate is slated to leave before the August recess with action on several pieces of legislation currently pending, including votes on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the PACT Act and the Respect for Marriage Act.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Republicans said they did not object to the new funding for veterans in the bill, but wanted the opportunity to adjust a “budget gimmick” that they say could be exploited by Democrats. sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has led Republicans in their opposition, pushing for an amendment to change the language in the bill. use for unrelated purposes.

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“What’s important for a veteran who is sick from a toxic exposure is that the money is there to cover what he needs, he needs to worry about that and it will be there,” Toomey said on Tuesday. “What I’m trying to limit is the extent to which they could use a budget gimmick to reclassify a spending reclassification and go into an unrelated spending spree.”

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Republicans will finally have their chance to close these alleged budget loopholes in a vote Tuesday night as they consider Toomey’s amendment to change the accounting provisions in the bill. It will almost certainly fail.

“We have an extremely sympathetic, overwhelmingly popular group of Americans, and for good reason, they are veterans,” Toomey said. “There is an overwhelming consensus to provide the funds to at least cover their health care costs and provide them with disability benefits for their service to our country. In fact, the case is so popular that the $280 billion in new spending.

Schumer on the floor called today’s development “good news.”

“Our veterans across America can breathe a sigh of relief,” Schumer said on the ground. “The treatment they deserve and have been denied by the VA because of all kinds of legal barriers and suspicions is now gone.”



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