Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding moving closer to passing the Honoring Our PACT Act, legislation to help veterans exposed to burn pits during military service. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
We continue a productive week here on the Senate floor.
Today the Senate will take another step closer to passing the largest veterans’ health care bill in decades, Honoring Our PACT Act.
In a few moments, the Senate will vote to adopt the substitute amendment and then immediately vote on cloture on the bill, bringing us to the brink of passing this long-sought piece of legislation. Frankly, the Senate should come to an agreement to finish the PACT Act work ASAP. We should pass this bill as soon as we can, and finally tell our veterans that the long wait for their well-earned benefits is over.
Let me say it again: there is no reason not to finish the PACT Act ASAP.
Our nation’s veterans have waited long enough for this bill. Since 9/11 nearly three and a half million veterans have been exposed to toxic burn pits in the line of duty. Scores of Americans went off to serve our country in perfect health, only to come back home and get sick from toxic exposure. And when many of these veterans applied to the VA for health care benefits, they oftentimes discovered that they didn’t qualify.
It is a confounding indignity for our nation’s heroes to sacrifice everything for our country only to come home, get sick, and discover that the VA isn’t there for them; that they have to fend for themselves.
What kind of message does it send to future veterans when we can’t guarantee they’ll get health care benefits they rightfully deserve? When the VA will not deal with injuries occurred on the battlefield because of toxic burn pits and other issues?
With the PACT Act, we have a chance to answer that question with a resounding “yes.” Question, well, if I enlist, am I going to really be taken care of when my service is complete? We have a chance to can answer that question with a resounding yes. Yes, we will take care of you. Yes, we will make sure you can live healthy and dignified lives. Yes, we will keep our promise to protect our veterans, just as they sacrificed everything for us.
No great nation can dare afford to turn its back on the multitudes who’ve served our country. No veteran should ever have to carry the burden of treating complications from toxic exposure all by themselves, and we can change that simply with a vote on this bill.
Let’s pass the PACT Act with all due haste. We have a moral obligation in the chamber to get this done.