The Honoring Our PACT Act was approved 86-11 in the Senate on the sixth day after which Republicans stalled it in order to add a provision dealing with billions of dollars in mandatory spending.
The legislation provides $667 billion in funding to aid veterans who acquired illnesses from burn pits and study on those diseases. In July, the House voted 342-88 in favor of the bill, which was sponsored by 38 Republicans and 48 Democrats.
The Honoring Our PACT Act, which the Senate passed in June by a vote of 84-14, needed to be reconsidered by the House after changes were made in the lower chamber. Following Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey’s point that a provision allowing $396 billion in compulsory spending would “certainly be filled with spending totally unrelated to veterans,” 25 Republicans changed their votes from “yes” to “no.”
On Tuesday, Sen. Pat Toomey offered an amendment that would have allocated $116 billion and allowed the rest to be decided by the president, but Senate Majority Leader Schumer did not allow votes on amendments until after Tuesday. Toomey’s measure was defeated by a margin of 47-48.
“This may have been resolved a long time ago, as I had planned it would be, but we’ve arrived at the point where things can be fixed. And I must admit that we’re witnessing a historical example of what might be an unprecedented scale. What is this strategy known as? That technique is to take a very empathetic group of Americans—perhaps children with rare ailments, victims of crime, or veterans who are sickened after having been exposed to toxic chemicals while serving our nation abroad. You take this sympathetic group, create legislation that addresses their issues, and then sneak in something entirely unrelated. You dare anyone to stand up and speak about it because we all know that if you bring up the issue of the unrelated provision, people in this chamber and outside will stand up and make up all types of lies,” Toomey said on the Senate floor.