Veterans group slams GOP senators for delaying health benefits bill: We 'will hold them accountable'
In the U.S. Senate, a group of Republican senators — including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — have been holding up a bill that would extend health care benefits for military veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during wars: the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022, or PACT Act. Cruz claims that Democrats have loaded the bill up with “pork,” and comedian Jon Stewart — an outspoken and aggressive supporter of PACT Act — vehemently disagrees, slamming the GOP senators for holding the bill up. And those GOP senators, according to Boston Herald reporter Matthew Medsger, are also drawing the ire of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
In response to the 25 GOP senators who voted against the PACT Act on Wednesday, July 27, VFW National Commander Tim Borland complained, “When I heard the news about the failed PACT Act vote, I was angered. (On Wednesday), 25 senators who voted for the PACT Act last month changed their vote on the exact same. These 25 senators who broke their promise to veterans are risking more veterans getting sick and dying with every day this is delayed.”
The PACT ACT is designed to help veterans who were exposed to toxins from burn pits during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some of the Republican senators who supported the PACT Act in June are opposed to it now; the bill, passed in the U.S. Senate in June, was later passed in the U.S. House of Representatives as well. But now that it has gone back to the Senate, Cruz and other Republicans have turned against it.
Medsger reports, “(The PACT Act) left the Senate in June with the support of 84 senators, and found equal favor in the House, where a single sentence was removed before it was sent back to the upper chamber. Suddenly, 25 Republicans changed their votes, citing $400 billion in added spending, changes in funding structure and spending on non-veteran issues as the reasons. There’s just one thing: none of that occurred, according to the VFW. According to information shared by the VFW’s National Headquarters, the bill sends 100% of funds spent to veteran’s healthcare, it saw no change in funding structure from its passage in June, and the $400 billion number was an estimate provided by the Congressional Budget Office for the next ten years — not an actual appropriation figure.”
According to VFW, the bill’s “funding structure” has “not changed” since June.
Borland told the Herald, “Our team in D.C. is mobilizing our grassroots efforts to let these senators know the VFW will hold them accountable if they fail to honor their promise. We will not let the voices of veterans sick and dying from toxic exposure be ignored. Every veteran counts.”
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