Senate Republicans Cave And Pass Veterans Health Bill

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At first, Senators overwhelmingly passed the PACT Act, but then, 25 Republicans changed their minds about it, saying Democrats hid language in it that would hurt the economy. They got a lot of pressure, from Jon Stewart and the veterans themselves, and they caved.

NBC News reports:

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation expanding lifesaving health care benefits for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.

The 86-11 vote came after Republicans agreed to lift their blockade of the popular bill, caving to pressure from more than 60 veterans groups — and comedian Jon Stewart — who had railed against Republicans for days outside the Capitol.

Many of the veterans who had camped on the Senate steps, braving heat, humidity and thunderstorms, watched the vote from the gallery in the Senate chamber. The bill has already cleared the House and now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said his agency will act quickly after Biden signs the measure. “Once the President signs this bill into law, we at VA will implement it quickly and effectively, delivering the care these Veterans need and the benefits they deserve,” McDonough said in a statement.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., had been one of the Republicans holding up the bill as he demanded a vote on his amendment to put spending guardrails in place to ensure some of the massive $280 billion package over 10 years couldn’t be spent on “completely unrelated programs.” Democrats disputed Toomey’s characterization, saying the money would only be spent on veterans.

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Courtesy of CBS Evening News via YouTube.com

This is a great day for veterans but it remains to be seen if Toomey was right. Of course, we really can’t trust Congress to do the right thing, no matter what party is in charge. Americans will need to keep an eye on this to make sure all the money is spent on veterans. Are you, or do you know, a veteran? Are you, or are they, happy that the bill passed? Or should the Republicans not have caved?

Stacey Warner

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