When Senate Republicans block a piece of legislation aimed at our veterans, there’s probably a reason. But the furor over the burn pit legislation has reached a fever pitch after Senate Republicans blocked the bill on a technicality. Jon Stewart, who has been a vocal advocate for the Honor our PACT Act, was livid and called out Senator Pat Toomey, and Senator Mitch McConnell for voting against the bill. The bill will come up again for vote on August 1 (Monday). At that time, the Senate will vote on an amendment before their August break.
UPDATE: The Burn Pit legislation passed on Tuesday, August 2, after voting on several amendments.
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What is wrong here? Everything on both sides.
Our Founder and CEO Rick Ferran, who is currently suffering from Acute Myeloid Leukemia from his burn pit exposure has this to say:
“Maybe, like I said even the choice program wasn’t 100%. If they voted against it I’d like to know why, and what solutions they have for us. I hate to be dramatic but our brothers and sisters are dying every day from this and getting zero help from anyone with actual solutions. It’s been going on for decades since the Gulf War. How about get the government to do the same thing they did for the 9-11 first responders? Give the victims a fund similar to the 9-11, this way victims can use the funds accordingly.”Rick Ferran
Mandatory spending vs discretionary spending: The Pat Toomey quandary
But while I have your attention, could all of you (including news orgs) please ask @PatToomey why he is single-handedly stalling a veterans health care bill that passed w huge bipartisan support over a technicality? Asking for 3.5 million friends.— Jon Stewart (@jonstewart) July 9, 2022
The bill passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 84-14 in June. But now it’s been in “limbo” because of one line in the legislation that “creates the Cost of War Toxic Exposure Fund, a new mandatory fund in the Treasury for costs associated with benefits and health care for toxic exposed veterans, including administrative costs. This would shift spending that would be subject to appropriations under current law to direct spending under the new fund and would cover expenditures for programs in place under current law as well as new spending under this bill. Under the new fund, large portions of annual spending for VA would no longer be subject to the regular appropriations process, and most future legislation impacting VA spending would be subject to pay-go rules. The bill appropriates $500 million to the fund for fiscal year 2022.”
Senator Pat Toomey explained it like this:
Speaking at the Senate, Toomey said he declined to support the bill because it would include what he called a “budget gimmick.” In a statement, his office explained that the legislation “would allow $400 billion of current law spending to be moved from the discretionary to the mandatory spending category. This provision is completely unnecessary to achieve the PACT Act’s stated goal of expanding health care and other benefits for veterans. However, it would enable an additional $400 billion in future discretionary spending completely unrelated to veterans.”MSN
The original bill also contains bonuses and other items for VA employees, and many other issues that have nothing to do with suffering veterans. The bill is still likely to pass on Monday, because nobody wants to look like they’re against veterans. If Pat Toomey and the GOP dig their heels in too hard on this issue, it could cause the “red wave” to turn into a trickle in November. The wheels in Washington DC move slowly, when they move at all. But Rick is right, coming up with a real solution appears to be beyond the comprehension of either Democrats or Republicans.
Featured screenshot of Jon Stewart from YouTube video
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