Republican Senators Change Their Vote, Blocking a Bill to Help Sick Veterans.
After voting to pass same bill in June, 25 Republican Senators abruptly changed their votes, blocking the legislation from passing.
Veterans and their families gathered in Washington DC last week for what was supposed to be a celebration.
The Senate was finally going to pass a bill providing health care and benefits to millions of veterans exposed to toxins- from Agent Orange in Vietnam to the burn pits in the middle east. It was supposed to be a day of relief and the end of a long fight lasting much longer than most advocates’ tours of duty.
Instead, 25 Republican senators blocked the measure despite voting for it last month.
Touted as one of the most significant expansions of VA care ever, the passage of the bill known as the PACT Act would mean veterans would no longer have to prove their illness was caused by direct toxic exposure while in the military.
Veterans’ health is an issue traditionally receiving broad bipartisan support; indeed, the measure passed overwhelmingly in the Senate by a vote of 84–14 in June.
So what happened?
A technical error triggered another vote, and with more than two dozen Republican senators switching their votes, the final tally was 55–42 (3 senators abstained), falling just short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster.
Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called the switch a “gimmick,” stating:
“Millions of men and women — patriots like Heath Robinson — served this nation without asking once what was in it for them…Yesterday, Senate Republicans thanked them for their service by using them and their families as a bargaining chip in their latest political game. Their gimmick will not work — we’re going to make good on our promise to veterans.”
Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Jon Tester (D-MT) concurred, adding,