Following a postponement of a Senate vote initially scheduled for this week, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a video press conference to call on the Senate to swiftly vote on and pass the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 and to rebut arguments against the important package. A key cornerstone of the PACT Act is Senator Gillibrand’s bipartisan Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act, which establishes a presumptive service connection for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins.
This week’s procedural vote passed 86-12, but opponents have delayed the final votes. The PACT Act is expected to go to the Senate floor for a vote next week.
“This week, we held a procedural vote on the PACT Act that passed the Senate 86-12. Even with this broad, bipartisan support, our opponents are stalling the process to claim the cost of caring for our service members and veterans is too high. My response to them – this is the cost of war,” said Senator Gillibrand, chair of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. “When we send men and women to fight for our country, we always find resources for tanks, missiles, and guns. But when it comes to human lives, we come up short. We need to pass the PACT Act now.”
Gillibrand first introduced the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act in September 2020, alongside a bicameral group that included Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA), comedian Jon Stewart, activist John Feal, and a strong coalition of veterans service organizations. The group introduced an updated, bipartisan version in the spring of 2021 together with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). In March 2022, the House of Representatives passed the Honoring Our PACT Act, an effort led by House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano and Gillibrand’s House co-lead, Congressman Raul Ruiz. The War Fighters bill was included in the Honoring Our PACT Act as the centerpiece of the presumptive coverage section.