Aug. 2 (UPI) — The US Senate gave strong bipartisan support on a second vote on legislation that would provide health insurance for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving.
The House voted 86-11 in favor of the OUR PACT Implementation Act. The House passed it in June, which means the legislation has now gone to the president Joe Bidendesk for signing.
Biden released a statement saying he looks forward to signing the bill.
“I have long said that we have many responsibilities as a nation, but we have only one sacred duty: to train and equip those we send to war, and to care for them and their families when they return home.” he said. .
The leader of the Democrats in the Senate Chuck Schumer of New York said it’s “disgraceful” that service members exposed to toxic chemicals while serving overseas are being denied the help they need. He called the passage a “wonderful moment.”
“This is outrageous,” he told the Senate before the vote. “Today, we’re telling our veterans suffering from cancer, lung disease, other burn-related illnesses, that the wait is over for the benefits you deserve.
“No more pointless delays in getting the medical care you need. No more jumping through hoops or even hiring lawyers to get a response from the VA.”
In addition to health care and other benefits for those suffering from toxic-related illnesses, the PACT Act provides financial assistance to spouses and children of those who die from exposure to toxic substances, including tuition, life insurance loan assistance and health care.
Republicans in the Senate blocked the law last week over what Sen. Pat ToomeyR-Pa., is described as “a budget that would shift $400 billion in current statutory spending from discretionary to mandatory spending.”
The Senate initially passed the bill by an 84-14 vote in June, but after the legislation was amended in the House, the upper chamber failed to pass by 60 votes on Wednesday.
Toomey introduced an amendment Tuesday that would have changed the accounting issue, but it fell short of the 60-vote threshold for passage.
The vote against PACT drew anger from Senate Democrats, veterans groups and a comedian John Stewartwho spoke outside the Capitol in support of the legislation.
“You don’t tell their river to take a break, you tell their river to stay home and visit their families,” said Stewart of Daily show fame, told reporters after the hearing, pausing occasionally to regain his composure. “It’s a shame if it’s America first, America is [expletive].”
Pedro Oliveira Jr. contributed to this report.
https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2022/08/02/burn-pits-Senate-vote-PACT-Act/4091659470269/ Bipartisan Senate vote sends incineration relief bill to President Joe Biden’s desk