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

The Senate on Tuesday handed a invoice to develop well being care and incapacity advantages to tens of millions of veterans — lower than per week after greater than two dozen Republicans blocked it and drew outrage from the veterans’ group, comic Jon Stewart and others.

The Promise to Deal with Complete Toxics Act, or the PACT Act, handed in a 86-11 vote. It now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into legislation.

It ought to have handed the Senate final week. An analogous model of the PACT Act handed the Senate in June, in an 84-14 vote. It’s not significantly controversial: It could enable troopers, sailors and airmen uncovered to pits of burnt waste in fight zones to be lined by the Veterans Affairs well being care system for associated diseases. Many of those vets received sick from publicity to burn pits through the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.

However final Wednesday, proper after the information broke that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had struck a deal on a large tax and local weather change bundle, 25 Republicans unexpectedly blocked the PACT Act regardless of beforehand voting to advance it. It made no sense, besides within the context of Republicans having a full-blown tantrum a couple of Democratic deal they didn’t like and taking out their anger on a very unrelated veterans invoice.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) led the GOP effort to dam the invoice, saying he wished so as to add an modification associated to budgetary spending.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) led the GOP effort to dam the PACT Act, a invoice to develop well being care and incapacity advantages to tens of millions of veterans.

Kent Nishimura by way of Getty Photos

The GOP vote to dam the invoice spurred veterans to point out up exterior the Capitol in protest, a few of whom had been camped exterior of the constructing for days. Stewart, who has advocated on behalf of veterans for years, joined them and tore into Republicans as “stab-vets-in-the-back senators.

“If that is America first, then America is fucked,” Stewart fumed.

However on Tuesday, Republicans folded and agreed to maneuver ahead on the invoice on the situation that they might get votes on three GOP amendments. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wished to scale back help to different nations to assist pay for the PACT Act. Toomey wished to categorise funding for the PACT Act as discretionary versus obligatory. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) wished to shift veterans care into personal group care.

The entire amendments failed.

Simply earlier than the invoice handed, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the invoice’s sponsor, tweeted a video of Stewart hugging him and thanking him exterior the Capitol for getting the invoice finished.

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

“You introduced this factor by way of and also you made this occur,” he mentioned, strolling together with his arm across the senator. “And these guys know that, and so they admire it.”

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