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Senate again set to vote on expanding medical relief to burn pits victims

Posted at 4:41 AM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-01 10:23:43-04

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that Democrats will, again, bring forward a bill to expand medical coverage for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.

The bill, known as the Pact Act, stalled July 28 after 25 Republican senators, including Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn — who both previously supported the bill — reversed their stances.

The bill already has passed the House, and a previous version passed in the Senate last month before a few changes were made.

Proponents of the measure, including Burn Pits 360 founders Le Roy and Rosie Torres of Robstown, and comedian Jon Stewart, said they were surprised the current version didn't sail through again.

Stewart and Cruz both posted videos on Twitter recently about the bill.

Cruz said in his video the act, "gives a $400 billion blank check, separate from vets care, for unrelated pork that will supercharge inflation."

"As veterans sit in Washington, D.C., in the sweltering heat demanding that they pass this legislation that they've been fighting for for 15 years — look, anybody can say anything. You know, we could say Elvis Presley is still alive, but at some point, we all have to live in reality. And what he is saying is just factually incorrect. The bill that Ted Cruz voted 'yes' on had the exact same funding provisions as the bill he voted 'no' on. It's the exact same bill," Stewart told NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday.

The legislation would expand health care access to more than 3.5 million veterans who were exposed to toxins while serving in the military after Sept. 11, 2001.

"I see it as strictly repulsive, partisan politics that is hurting the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom," Le Roy Torres said. "And just, totally, it's disgusting."

"If they understood just one day in our shoes, they wouldn't be playing with the lives of our nation's defenders," said Rosie Torres.

If the Senate passes the legislation, President Joe Biden has promised to sign the Pact Act into law.