Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Pass The PACT Act

August 1, 2022

Washington, DCSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the need to pass the PACT Act after Republicans blocked this vital veterans’ health care legislation last week. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The Senate gavels in for what will be a very consequential week for this chamber and for our country. Later today, we will vote to move forward on the nomination of Elizabeth Hanes to serve as District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia. If confirmed she will be the 75th judge that this Senate majority has confirmed since the start of President Biden’s term.

In the coming days the Senate will also finish its work passing the PACT Act, the largest expansion of veteran health care benefits in decades, and a piece of legislation that should sail through this chamber with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Over the past few days, the Capitol steps have been the site of something we should never see in this country: dozens of veterans, braving heat and heavy rain, protesting through the night demanding that the Senate take action on their health care benefits. They are there right now, as we speak. No veteran who has sacrificed for our country should ever have to resort to spending the night on the Capitol steps to secure their benefits, but sadly in this case they have.

It is unfortunate that our Republican colleagues chose to block quick passage of this bill last week, even though this is the exact same piece of legislation many of them supported in June, with one small technical fix.

In the coming days, we are going to give Senate Republicans another chance to do the right thing, to work with us so we can send this bill to the President’s desk A-S-A-P.

Since 9/11, nearly three and a half million veterans have been exposed to toxic burn pits in the line of duty, leading to complications like cancer, lung disease, and other illnesses.

But instead of getting the care they need without delay, many veterans have had to hire lawyers and jump through hoops. They have to sue the Veterans Administration to get the help they deserve and need, incurred as they served our country in dangerous places like Iraq and Vietnam. Isn’t that incredible? They have wasted years fighting the V.A. just to get the care they need, when they should have spent that time treating their illnesses. It’s equally parts tragic and infuriating.

Our veterans have already given it their all to defend our nation from threats abroad; they shouldn’t have to fight a second war here at home just to get the health care benefits they rightfully deserve.

These brave Americans sacrificed everything—they risked life and limb—and the very least we can do as a country is ensure they receive top care.

I urge both sides to work together to quickly pass the PACT Act so we can send it to the President’s desk A-S-A-P.