Casey’s Statement on Senate Passing Veterans Health Care Bill

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After Republican senators blocked the bill’s passage last week, Casey and his fellow Democrats fought to push it forward

Honoring our PACT law would extend VA health care to more than 3.5 million veterans

Casey: ‘Senate Republicans finally came to their senses and stopped blocking legislation to care for veterans who were exposed to burns or Agent Orange during their military service’

washington d.c. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) issued a statement following the Senate’s adoption of the Honoring our PACT law:

“I’m glad the Senate passed the PACT Act today, but it should have happened a week ago. After delaying this bill because they were crazy about unrelated legislation, Senate Republicans finally came to their senses and stopped blocking legislation to care for veterans who were exposed to burns or to Agent Orange during their military service. This bill is a historic victory for veterans and our country, and it will save lives. We can never fully repay our service members and their families for their sacrifice, but we can and must take care of them now,” said Senator Casey.

The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson honors our PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) Act would dramatically expand access to health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to all veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service. The Senate passed the original bill on June 16 by an 84-14 vote. After a procedural objection necessitated another Senate vote, more than half of Senate Republicans changed their vote from “yes.” to “no” and blocked passage of the bill, following the announcement of an unrelated legislative deal. Senator Casey held a virtual press conference on August 1 with Pennsylvania veterans calling for the immediate passage of the honor our PACTE law. The Senate passed the bill on Aug. 2 by an 86-11 vote.

Senator Casey is one of the co-sponsors of the VA WISE Act, which has three articles included in the PACT law. These provisions will improve the recruitment and retention of health and human resource professionals in rural AV facilities, enabling quality care for newly eligible toxic substance-exposed veterans under the PACT Act. Senator Casey previously co-sponsored the Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011 (S.1798), Burn Liability Act 2019 (S. 191) andthe Burning Hearths Veterans Health Care Act (S. 3451). In 2019, Senator Casey co-sponsored the Blue Water Navy Veterans Act (S. 1195) to ensure that veterans exposed to Agent Orange while stationed on ships during the Vietnam War would receive presumptive coverage for related health effects. The Burn Liability Act was included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2019 to examine the health effects of military and veteran exposure to open burning fireplaces and other chemicals airborne toxins, incorporating assessments into routine health examinations. Honoring Our PACT is the culmination of these earlier efforts.

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