Senate Republicans Fold, Help Pass Veterans Health Bill After Blocking It

5 days ago 49

The Senate connected Tuesday passed a measure to grow wellness attraction and disablement benefits to millions of veterans — little than a week aft much than 2 twelve Republicans blocked it and drew outrage from the veterans’ community, comedian Jon Stewart and others.

The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, oregon the PACT Act, passed successful a 86-11 vote. It present heads to President Joe Biden’s table to beryllium signed into law.

It should person passed the Senate past week. A akin mentation of the PACT Act passed the Senate successful June, successful an 84-14 vote. It’s not peculiarly controversial: It would let soldiers, sailors and airmen exposed to pits of burnt discarded successful combat zones to beryllium covered by the Veterans Affairs wellness attraction strategy for related illnesses. Many of these vets got sick from vulnerability to pain pits during the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.

But past Wednesday, close aft the quality broke that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had struck a woody connected a monolithic taxation and clime alteration package, 25 Republicans unexpectedly blocked the PACT Act contempt antecedently voting to beforehand it. It made nary sense, but successful the discourse of Republicans having a full-blown tantrum astir a Democratic woody they didn’t similar and taking retired their choler connected a wholly unrelated veterans bill.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) led the GOP effort to artifact the bill, saying helium wanted to adhd an amendment related to budgetary spending.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) led the GOP effort   to artifact  the PACT Act, a measure  to grow  wellness  attraction   and disablement  benefits to millions of veterans.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) led the GOP effort to artifact the PACT Act, a measure to grow wellness attraction and disablement benefits to millions of veterans.

Kent Nishimura via Getty Images

The GOP ballot to artifact the measure spurred veterans to amusement up extracurricular the Capitol successful protest, immoderate of whom had been camped extracurricular of the gathering for days. Stewart, who has advocated connected behalf of veterans for years, joined them and tore into Republicans arsenic “stab-vets-in-the-back senators.

“If this is America first, past America is fucked,” Stewart fumed.

But connected Tuesday, Republicans folded and agreed to determination guardant connected the measure connected the information that they could get votes connected 3 GOP amendments. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wanted to trim assistance to different countries to assistance wage for the PACT Act. Toomey wanted to classify backing for the PACT Act arsenic discretionary versus mandatory. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) wanted to displacement veterans attraction into backstage assemblage care.

All of the amendments failed.

Just earlier the measure passed, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the bill’s sponsor, tweeted a video of Stewart hugging him and thanking him extracurricular the Capitol for getting the measure done.

“My man, pots and pans!” Stewart shouted astatine Tester.

“You brought this happening done and you made this happen,” helium said, walking with his limb astir the senator. “And these guys cognize that, and they admit it.”

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