WASHINGTON, D.C. (WHNT) — 11 Republicans voted against a bill Tuesday that proponents say would help veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service – including both of Alabama’s senators, Richard Shelby and Tommy Tuberville.
The legislation was passed in an 86-11 vote on Tuesday evening. The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk.
According to the short summary of the bill on congress.gov, the PACT Act “addresses the health care, presumption of service-connection, research, resources, and other matters related to veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during military service.”
CBS News reported that the bill passed both houses of Congress in June, but was sent back for a “snag in the language,” and could not be sent to the president’s desk for signature. The legislation failed in the Senate as recently as last week.
Read the entire PACT Act here.
Both of Alabama’s U.S. Senators released statements on their votes via Twitter.
“Throughout my career, I’ve remained a strong advocate for our veterans,” Shelby stated. “However, the PACT Act would reclassify nearly $400 billion in VA funding, allowing Dems to instead spend that on their liberal wish list. I want to support the PACT Act, but this budget gimmick must be fixed.”
In a series of tweets, Tuberville stated the bill didn’t do enough to help veterans suffering due to these toxic exposures.
Ensuring veterans have access to quality care is a priority of mine. Unfortunately, I do not believe the #PACTAct will enable the VA to efficiently deliver care and benefits to veterans suffering from illnesses related to toxic exposure. We can do better.
I do not believe this bill was considered in a fair and transparent way, with Leader Schumer taking the bill straight to the floor and bypassing the committee process. There are many provisions in the bill that require amending to ensure the VA can deliver on this law.
The most important priority is ensuring veterans have immediate access to the care they need. I was an original cosponsor of a bill that provided VA health care to post-9/11 combat veterans and passed the Senate. Unfortunately, the House refused to take up that bill.
I want to know that the VA can implement this comprehensive bill in a fair and effective way, and right now, I am not confident that that is the case.
We also took a vote tonight on a community care amendment, but Democrats chose unions over veterans. Vets should be able to use their own doctors, but this bill takes away their choice & veterans are getting the short end of the stick.U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.)
The other nine senators to vote against the PACT Act included Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).