What are the main contents of the veterans health care bill passed by the Senate?
Veterans healthcare has been expanded after Republicans eventually supported the bills passing. What support has been extended?
Tuesday saw the passing of a big expansion for veteran medical care in which 3.5 million former soldiers can benefit. The bill, named the PACT Act, seeks to address shortcomings in protection for soldiers who were exposed to dangerous chemicals in the line of duty.
The bill passed with 86 votes in favour with 11 no votes. The Republican party had held up the piece of legislation for two weeks before its final passing, leading to condemnation from veterans rights groups.
The bill will now head to the desk of President Biden for the signing into law.
“Our veterans across America can breathe a sigh of relief. …This is good news,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
What is included in the bill?
According to the White House, the PACT act expands the time veterans have to enroll in Veterans Association (VA) healthcare programmes, as well as making it easier for veterans to prove their illness was caused by their service. Certain veterans and their survivors now don’t need to prove a service connectection if they are or were diagnosed with one of 23 conditions. Further funding has been allocated to the VA to carry out its new responsibilities.
“This bill is the legislation we envisioned when we set out to right wrongs of our toxic-exposed veterans. The PACT Act recognizes that responsibility and it recognizes the cost of war,” said Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat at the head of the bill
Republican intransigence broken
Schumer had allowed three amendment votes from the Republicans to alter the bill, all of which failed. One of which was a suggested change from GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, who argued that the bill included ways in which the money included could be siphoned to other projects not including veterans. His amendment was soundly defeated.
The Republican paty had already backed the bill when it was in the Senate in June before withdrawing support and extending the time of its passing for two weeks. In both instances of voting the wording was identical, makign it unclear why the GOP withdrew its support.