By: Lori L. Freshwater
A bill that began as the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act is now more commonly called the Honoring our PACT Act or simply the PACT Act. The legislation is meant to address chemical exposures caused by the military which have affected human health for generations. Although it was thought to have wide bipartisan support, the PACT Act has been volleyed back and forth between the House and Senate for weeks beyond the previously anticipated arrival on President Biden’s desk.
After being introduced on June 17th, 2021, the PACT Act was passed by the House of Representatives on March 3rd of this year by a vote of 256-174. The bill then went on to the Senate in June and passed with a wide margin of 84-14. But instead of being sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law, Roll Call reports the bill “had to be revised — and receive a second vote in both chambers — to remove an obscure tax provision that raised a constitutional concern in the House.” This snag is known as a blue slip issue.
Two weeks ago the House once again passed the bill after the problem was resolved and it was sent back to the Senate. Most observers expected this to be the week that finally brought relief to the millions of veterans and their families who are suffering from toxic exposures. ”It’s about a budget gimmick that’s designed to allow hundreds of billions of dollars in additional unrelated spending, having nothing to do with veterans,” said Sen. Patrick J. Toomey who led the Republican effort to stop the bill this week.
According to Roll Call, “Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, who supports the bill, voted against cloture Wednesday to preserve his right to bring the bill back to the floor. He filed a motion to reconsider the cloture vote.”
Comedian and commentator Jon Stewart has been a driving force in the effort to pass legislation addressing Agent Orange, burn pits, and other toxic exposures. On July 28th at 10:30 am Stewart will hold a press conference along with several veteran’s organizations in order to challenge the Senate to stop delaying help needed by millions of suffering veterans and their family member
VoteVets is an organization claiming to represent 1.5 million members of the military community through progressing legislation and advocating for more veterans to hold political office. The group’s statement on Twitter echoed numerous other veteran advocacy groups.
“Each second this bill is delayed and keeps sick veterans from getting the care they earned is unacceptable. Republicans delaying this bill further is beyond reprehensible.”
S.3373 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): Honoring our PACT Act of 2022 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress