HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — One Pennsylvania Senator helped write the bill to help veterans sickened by toxic burn pits; Another helped the same bill fail in late July. But now, the bill is getting a second chance.
Both sides of the aisle agree that veterans need support. However, the language of the bill is something that is not agreed upon yet.
It was a shock to many when the bill on toxic burn pits didn’t pass. “It really saddened me because I know so many veterans and families that have struggled with illnesses,” said Amber Viola, U.S. Navy.
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The bill is known as the Pact Act, and it would expand the coverage for the estimated 3.5 million veterans exposed to burn pits during their time in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many veterans have come home with various illnesses, including terminal cancer.
The act passed both the House and the Senate with bipartisan support in June, but a snag with the bill’s language meant it had to pass again.
On the second time around, 25 Republican Senators, joined by Pat Toomey, pulled their support for the bill.
“We’ve got to provide them healthcare if we don’t do this what kind of a country are we? All we have to do in the senate is put our hand up and say yes that is pretty damn easy. Put your damn hand up,” said Senator Bob Casey (D). “Here is the problem completely unrelated to the $280 billion dollars of new spending there is a mechanism created in this bill, its a budgetary gimmick that has the intent of making it possible to have a huge explosion in unrelated spending, $400 billion dollars.”
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Lawmakers are debating the language of the bill, but veterans are waiting. “It’s time this bill gets passed and all veterans get taken care of agent orange, the burn pits, the asbestos everything else,” said U.S. Navy veteran Tony Ferreira.
Senator Toomey says he has proposed a fix that would remove what he calls a “budget gimmick,” which is some $400 billion in spending unrelated to veterans. The bill could pass the Senate as soon as August 5.
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