WASHINGTON, DC – After Senate Republicans blocked the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 from final passage in the wake of an announced agreement over a separate, unrelated bill to fight inflation and combat climate change, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement:

 

“This was outrageous.  Senate Republicans have broken faith with veterans who were exposed to toxins and are now depriving ailing men and women of necessary care.  I have yet to hear a credible explanation for this flip-flop by so-called Republican leaders.  Whether they reversed course over spending mechanisms or unrelated legislation, it’s sickening that they’re treating veterans with utter disdain and continue denying them access to needed care.  I urge Republicans to stop playing partisan games with people’s lives.  Our veterans deserve better.”

         

Named after Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, who died in 2020 from toxic exposure as a result of his military service, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act would expand health care for Post-9/11 combat veterans, create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure, expand VA’s list of service presumptions, and improve resources to support VA’s claims processing.

 

In June, the bill passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 84-14, and earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve it by a vote of 342-88.  Due to a procedural matter and technical corrections that did not impact the substance of the bill itself, the Senate was required to hold a vote on the House-passed version, requiring another vote that had to overcome a Republican filibuster.

 

Last night’s vote, which failed 55-42 with only five Republicans voting to support veterans exposed to toxic chemicals while in the line of duty, was held shortly after press reports broke indicating that U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) had come to an agreement in principle on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a measure designed to fight inflation, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.