WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), the Chairman of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement after Senate Republicans voted yesterday to block the final passage of the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act:
“I lack the words to describe my disappointment with those Senate Republicans who voted yesterday to block the final passage of the Honoring Our PACT Act, which would finally deliver health care to veterans exposed to toxins during their service. As Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue working to secure passage of this bill, including the funding mechanism that requires Congress to appropriate the funds necessary every year to pay for these expanded benefits. In the fiscal year 2023 bill, I have included $1.4 billion for this purpose in the Cost of War Toxic Exposures Fund, which funds these programs without compromising other critical VA programs.
“To all the veterans, families, and VSOs who have been working for decades to receive overdue recognition, screening, and treatment from the VA for toxic exposure related conditions, please know that I will not give up this fight. We must deliver on the promise that veterans will receive their full health care benefits and treatment for health conditions stemming from their service.”
Just last month, Heinrich applauded the bipartisan 84 to 14 vote to pass the PACT Act out of the Senate. The substance of the bill has not changed since that time. However, yesterday, Senate Republicans blocked a procedural vote that would have cleared the way for final passage.