Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Final Senate Passage Of The PACT Act

August 2, 2022

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor ahead of the passage of the Honoring Our PACT Act, which will substantially expand veteran health care benefits for service members impacted by exposure to toxic burn pits while overseas. The bill will now go to President Biden’s desk for his signature. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

This is a long-awaited moment for our nation’s veterans: finally—finally!—this Senate is going to pass the most significant expansion of veteran health care benefits in generations.

This is a very good day, a long-awaited day, a day that should have happened long, long ago.

For decades, many of our nation’s veterans have endured a shameful reality: they went abroad to serve our country bravely, got sick from toxic exposure in the line of duty, but came home and learned they didn’t qualify for the benefits they needed to treat their illnesses. It is shameful. It is infuriating.

Today we tell our veterans suffering from cancers, lung diseases, other ailments from burn pits: the wait is over for the benefits you deserve.

No more pointless delays on getting the health care you need!

No more jumping through hoops and even hiring lawyers just to get an answer from the VA!

And after today, if you are a veteran—from Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan to everywhere in between—and you get sick from burn pit exposure or Agent Orange, you will finally be able to get your earned benefits. Guaranteed.

I want to thank my colleagues from both sides of the aisle for working together to push the PACT Act over the finish line, especially Senators Tester and Moran who were the original leaders of the bill. Thank you also to my colleague, Senator Gillibrand from New York, and thank in advance all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who will vote for this much needed legislation.

Importantly, I want to thank the many veterans, Veteran Service Organizations, and advocates like Jon Stewart and John Feal who led a righteous, mighty movement to get this bill done. It wouldn’t have happened without you.

And I especially want to thank the veterans who camped at the foot of Capitol Hill for the past few days, enduring scorching heat and drenching rain just to get to this point.

They said they would never go home until they got this bill done. They’re here.

Well, I have good news: in a few minutes after this bill passes, you can go home knowing the good and great thing you have done and accomplished for the United States of America.

Because of them, veterans everywhere will finally get the dignity and care they deserve.

The PACT Act is now going to the President’s desk. I thank my colleagues for their work and I ask for the yeas and nays.

###