Days after Republican lawmakers blocked a bill to provide benefits for military veterans exposed to toxic “burn pits” in war zones, the Senate will take a new vote on the matter this week, says Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Last week, 25 Republicans voted against the legislation, which would let vets with certain illnesses receive disability payments without having to prove their maladies came from their service.
The vote on the bill, which would also expand the window of eligibility to get care from the Department of Veteran Affairs, came after years of efforts to help vets injured by toxins from pits burnt from Afghanistan to Vietnam.
Last week’s vote was especially galling to advocates since Republicans previously supported the legislation. A second vote was only taken due to a technicality.
“Despite what happened last week, when the GOP blocked passage of the ‘Honoring Our PACT Act,’ I will hold a new vote this week,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said in a Sunday statement. “This is not a Washington issue. This is a local issue. We just need Washington to help solve it.
“Our veterans deserve treatment for their cancers, respiratory diseases, and the countless other illnesses caused by exposure to burn pits and other toxins,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-R.I.) dismissed the bill as being based on an accounting or budgeting “gimmick.”
Toomey and TV celebrity Jon Stewart — a bill advocate who slammed the Republican “no” votes — took shots at each other on Sunday.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Toomey accused Democrats of unleashing “their allies in the media and maybe a pseudo-celebrity to make up false accusations to try to get us to just swallow what shouldn’t be there.”
Stewart, the former host of “The Daily Show,” responded with a zinger of his own.
“I’d rather be a pseudo celeb than pseudo Senator!” he tweeted.
With News Wire Services