After Republican Senators blocked passage of the bill last week, Casey and his Democratic colleagues fought to move it forward
Honoring Our PACT Act would expand VA health care to more than 3.5 million veterans
Casey: “Senate Republicans finally came to their senses and stopped blocking legislation to take care of veterans who were exposed to burn pits or Agent Orange during their military service”
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is releasing a statement following Senate passage of the Honoring our PACT Act:
“I’m glad the Senate passed the PACT Act today, but this should have happened a week ago. After holding up this bill because they were mad about unrelated legislation, Senate Republicans finally came to their senses and stopped blocking legislation to take care of veterans who were exposed to burn pits or Agent Orange during their military service. This legislation is an historic win for veterans and our country, and it will save lives. We will never be able to fully repay our servicemembers and their families for their sacrifice, but we can, and we must, take care of them now,” said Senator Casey.
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) Act would greatly expand access to health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to all veterans exposed to toxic substances during their time in the military. The Senate passed the original bill on June 16 by a vote of 84 – 14. After a procedural objection required another Senate vote, more than half of Senate Republicans switched their votes from ‘yes’ to ‘no’ and blocked the bill from passing, following the announcement of an unrelated legislative deal. Senator Casey held a virtual press conference on August 1 with Pennsylvania veterans calling for immediate passage of the Honoring our PACT Act. The Senate passed the bill on August 2 by a vote of 86-11.
Senator Casey is a cosponsor of the VA WISE Act, which has three sections included in the PACT Act. These provisions will improve recruitment and retention of health care and human resources professionals at rural VA facilities, enabling quality care for those toxic-exposed veterans newly eligible under the PACT Act. Senator Casey previously cosponsored the Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011 (S.1798), the Burn Pits Accountability Act of 2019 (S. 191) and the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act (S. 3451). In 2019, Senator Casey cosponsored the Blue Water Navy Veterans Act (S. 1195) to ensure that veterans exposed to Agent Orange while stationed on ships during the Vietnam War would receive presumptive coverage for related health effects. The Burn Pits Accountability Act was included in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to examine the health effects of servicemembers’ and veterans’ exposure to open burn pits and other toxic airborne chemicals, integrating evaluations into routine health exams. The Honoring Our PACT Act is a culmination of these previous efforts.