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A Law That Will Assist Ailing Veterans Was Approved by the Senate. After That, 25 Republicans Decided to Change Their Stance

On Thursday, those who had served in the military and their families came together in Washington, District of Columbia, for what was intended to be a joyous occasion.

A plan that would offer health care and benefits for millions of veterans who were damaged as a result of exposure to poisons, such as Agent Orange in Vietnam or burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, was finally on the verge of being passed by the Senate.

Instead, in an unexpected turn of events, twenty-five Republican senators voted against the legislation on Wednesday, even though they had supported it just one month before.

For veterans of previous generations to be eligible for VA benefits, the PACT Act would remove the need that they demonstrate that their condition was brought on by hazardous exposures sustained during their time in the military.

It had been lauded as the most extensive expansion of care in the history of the VA, and it was anticipated that it would cost $280 billion over a decade.

Activists had spent a decade advocating for such an expansion, during which time they had suffered the loss of many of their own members, including Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson, in whose honour the bill is named.

He was a member of the Ohio National Guard and served near a burn pit during his deployments to Kosovo and Iraq. In the year 2020, he passed away from a rare form of cancer.

The bill, which received widespread support from members of both parties, was easily approved by the Senate in June with a vote of 84 to 14. It was one of the many issues concerning the health of veterans.

However, because of a technical error, another vote had to be taken, and this time, more than two dozen Republicans voted against their party.

The final total was 55-42 (with three senators abstaining), which is below the threshold of 60 votes required to break a filibuster.

After the vote on Thursday, veterans groups, family members, longstanding supporter Jon Stewart, and numerous Democratic senators gathered outside the United States Capitol to vent their indignation.

They upheld their end of the bargain! “These individuals believed that they would soon be able to take a deep breath,” Stewart stated.

You think their problems will be solved if the Pact Act is passed, do you? The only thing that this ensures is that they won’t have to choose between their cancer medication and their home.

Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, has accused Senate Republicans of turning their backs on veterans and their families.

He referred to this action as an unacceptable “slap in the face” to service members.

“My colleagues can make up all sorts of excuses as to why they decided to change their vote for this bill,” he said.

“But the bottom line is, veterans will suffer and die as a result on behalf of these excuses, and that’s why we’ve got to pass this bill.”

“My colleagues can make up all sorts of excuses as to why they decided to change their vote for this bill.”

Who voted differently the second time around, and why? Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who has been a leader in the opposition to the bill, voted against it both times.

In remarks delivered on the floor of the Senate, he criticised it as a “budgetary gimmick” that would result in the creation of $400 billion in spending that is irrelevant to the issue at hand by reclassifying it as mandatory rather than discretionary.

His administration has stated that the planned technological remedy will not result in a decrease in the amount of money spent on veterans or a restriction on the growth of care.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell stated that he supports the substance of the bill, but not the “accounting gimmick.”

He also accused Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of attempting to block Toomey’s amendment. McConnell said that he supports the substance of the bill, but not the “accounting gimmick.”

However, these same worries regarding spending did not appear to pose an initial worry for the more than two dozen Republicans who voted in favour of it a month ago but have since unexpectedly changed their position.

They are as follows: Senators John Barrasso, Marsha Blackburn, Roy Blunt, Mike Braun, Bill Cassidy, John Cornyn, Tom Cotton, Kevin Cramer, Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst, Deb Fischer, Bill Hagerty, Josh Hawley, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Jim Inhofe, Ron Johnson, John Kennedy, Roger Marshall, Mitch McConnell, Rob Portman, Ben Sasse, Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Dan Sullivan, and Todd Young are members of this group Sens.

Furthermore, Senators Steve Daines and Roger Wicker voted against the bill, even though they skipped the vote in June.


Outside the Capitol, Susan Zeier, Heath Robinson’s mother-in-law, was comforting her nine-year-old granddaughter who was crying while remarking that all of the candidates had images of themselves with veterans posted on their websites and Facebook accounts.

“Well, that’s a waste of time, they don’t support veteran causes. If you won’t cast a vote on this legislation, it shows that you don’t care for veterans.

A few of those senators have served in the military before.

According to Kristina Keenan, a representative for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, “Promises were made, and promises were violated.” “Senators Cotton, Ernst, and Sullivan are veterans, but they are postponing medical care for a number of the men and women with whom they served,”

The office of Representative Ernst stated that the issue with the budget was the reason for her opposition, while the other representatives did not answer NPR’s request for comment.

Some Democratic lawmakers have offered alternative explanations for their colleagues’ sudden switch, noting that it comes just after they came to an agreement on their own on a separate reconciliation bill.

These lawmakers have pointed out that the sudden switch comes just after they reached an agreement.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said in a statement that the “charitable explanation” is that Republicans simply changed their minds, while the alternative explanation is that they are “angry that Democrats are on the verge of passing climate change legislation and have decided to take out their anger on vulnerable veterans.”

He continued by saying, “Regardless of how you look at it, it is not a good day for veterans in this country.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), speaking at a press conference on Thursday, referred to the situation as “the worst form of overt politicisation I’ve literally ever seen.”

She urged the audience to make sure those 25 senators understand that “they have just sentenced veterans to death because they will not have the healthcare they have earned.”

This law enjoyed widespread support from members of both parties. “And at the very last minute, Senator Toomey makes the decision that he wants to alter the law,” she continued.

“I have no idea how he was able to convince 25 of his colleagues to change their vote,” you said. Where did you get that? What causes this to take place?

How is it possible to have a change of heart shortly before passing a law that’s going to help save people’s lives? It makes no sense. It’s a scandal, and someone ought to take responsibility for it.

During the press conference that took place on Thursday, Susan Zeier, the mother-in-law of the late Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson, gave Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) a hug.

What supporters for veterans are saying, as well as what is going to happen next
Veterans advocacy organisations and activists have spoken out strongly against Senate Republicans for their decision to obstruct the proposal, and they have vowed to continue lobbying for it.

At the press conference that took place on Thursday, many people took the microphone to demand accountability and additional action. They also urged lawmakers not to go on recess in August until they have passed the bill.

Schumer has indicated that he plans to have yet another vote on a procedural matter on Monday.

Bob Carey, who works for the organisation that provides services to veterans called Independence Fund, urged senators to stay overnight and into the weekend if it was necessary.

He even offered to bring coffee, doughnuts, and barbecue if he thought it would help get the job done more quickly.

At the podium, he made the following statement: “People tell us, ‘we can get this passed in September, or during the lame duck,'” he remarked.

When you have cancer or when you are sick, a month or two can feel like a lifetime, and this is true not only metaphorically but also perhaps physically. This vote needs to happen right away.

Tom Porter, the executive vice president for government relations of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, made the observation that many of the 25 senators had released news releases boasting their past votes in support of veterans, only to turn their backs on them later.

In a heated and swear-filled address, Stewart, a former talk show presenter who has become a prominent advocate for veterans’ rights, ripped into the Republican senators for their treatment of veterans.

Stewart made the observation at one point that the legislators being addressed were probably inside enjoying the air conditioning, and he noted that they were ignoring the veterans who had been braving the intense heat for over an hour to try to make their point. At least one of the veterans was wearing an oxygen tube.

In addition, he criticised Toomey’s characterization of the spending provision in the bill as a “slush fund,” saying that the United States already has much larger funds that are unrestricted to support its military operations overseas and its defence budget. He said this because the United States has guardrails.

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He claimed that your support for the armed forces was lacking. You are a proponent of the war machine.

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