Virginia lawmakers differ over Pact Act failure to pass in U.S. Senate

Advancing the pact act to improve healthcare for veterans
Advancing the pact act to improve healthcare for veterans
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 3:02 PM EDT

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDBJ) - Virginia lawmakers are reacting to a bill that would’ve expanded health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans failing to pass in the U.S. Senate Wednesday.

According to the U.S. Congress official website, The Pact Act, also called Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022, addressed health care, the presumption of service connection, research, resources, and other matters related to veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during military service.

An early version to the bill, blocked in the Senate by Republicans Wednesday, passed with bipartisan support June 16, with Republican senators who supported the bill in June voting against the bill Wednesday.

Open air burn pits were used to burn everything from trash to human waste to chemicals at military sites.

U.S. Rep Ben Cline (R-6) was the only Republican from our region to vote in favor of the bill in the House.

“Standing for those who stood for us has been one of my priorities in Congress, and I am disappointed in the Senate for not supporting Veterans exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Cline said. “We cannot send our servicemembers to fight our wars and neglect them when they come home.”

Others like Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-9) voiced concerns about the bill’s mandatory spending.

“I think veterans who have been exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances, like Agent Orange, in the line of duty deserve benefits, Griffith said. My objection to the PACT Act is that it uses budget gimmicks to incur hundreds of billions of dollars in mandatory spending, thus allowing Democrats to increase discretionary spending, and would extend benefits to individuals whose duties would not evidently expose them to burn pits. I’ve supported and voted in favor of other bills that would aid veterans exposed to burn pits and expand Agent Orange benefits without these major flaws.”

U.S. Rep Bob Good (R-5), highlighted the bill’s price tag as a reason for caution.

“Helping our veterans and responsible government spending are not mutually exclusive. My office works regularly with veterans to provide them with the health care benefits they deserve,” Good said. Sadly, the Honoring Our PACT Act will cost $681 billion in total and permanently increase mandatory federal spending, by $397 billion in the first 10 years alone. As inflation has now hit a whopping 9.1%, Congress must do better to both provide care for our veterans and maintain fiscal sanity on behalf of every hardworking taxpayer.”

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