Oh The Irony! The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act Is Broken – Full Texts of PACT 1 and PACT 2

Oh The Irony! The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act Is Broken – Full Texts of PACT 1 and PACT 2

Full Versions PACT Act 1 & 2

August 5, 2022 
Updated on August 5, 2022 at 8:12 AM EDT

“Burn Pit” Bill passed on an 86-11 vote on August 2, 2022.

Original Post:
Here is the original Promise To Address Comprehensive Toxins (PACT) version full text: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/3967/text

Revised Promise To Address Comprehensive Toxins (PACT) version full text: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/3373/text

If you’ve never read a Congressional bill before, they are massively detailed documents. See the final version of the vote for yourself for what is officially called the Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) Act.

Republican Senators voted NO to help save the lives of our Veterans exposed to deadly toxins created by burn pit exposure. We have a post on why they did that here. This is a bill sponsored by Kansas Republican Senator Moran, the same Senator who co-authored the SSG Fox Veteran Suicide bill that passed in 2019.

When you compare the two document, the only change made relates to a tax status for the hundreds of private practice health care providers who would have cared for the Vets. Here’s the difference:

 “(e) NOT A TAXABLE BENEFIT.—A contract buy out for a covered health care professional under subsection (a) shall not be considered a taxable benefit or event for the covered health care professional.” 

That’s it! This was a tax exemption clarification that only affects the many private practice facilities that are required to render care to the huge number of Vets in need. Wait. Perhaps the tax breaks are what the Republicans’ flip-flopped on, but talking points in the days after centered around a $400 billion number. It was not pork. That is the price tag for the PACT. That money is hard-coded to pay for the program, period.

Of course, the human tragedy Veterans and their families face goes on in the meantime. As a nation, we need a discussion centered about Veterans. Once A Soldier is preparing to advocate for a Veterans Administration Czar who can rebuild that mess.

What Is a Burn Pit?

A burn pit is an area devoted to open-air combustion of trash. The use of burn pits was a common waste disposal practice at military sites outside the United States, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Smoke from these pits contained substances that may have short- and long-term health effects, especially for those who were exposed for long periods or those more
prone to illness such as individuals with pre-existing asthma or other lung or heart conditions.

Waste products in burn pits include, but are not limited to: chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, metal/aluminum cans, munitions and other unexploded ordnance, petroleum and lubricant products, plastics and Styrofoam, rubber, wood, and discarded food. Burning waste in pits can create more hazards compared to controlled high-temperature burning—like in a commercial incinerator.

The VA fact sheet on burn pits says veteran burn pit exposures to high levels of specific, individual chemicals that may be present in burn pit smoke have been shown to cause long-term effects, in some cases, on: skin, respiratory system, eyes, liver, kidneys, central nervous system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, peripheral nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract.

The IOM study  – supplied by this group – found these health effects associated with five or more chemicals it detected at Joint Base Balad in Iraq:

  • Neurologic effects and reduced central nervous system function
  • Liver toxicity and reduced liver function
  • Cancer (stomach, respiratory, and skin cancer; leukemia; and others)
  • Respiratory toxicity and morbidity
  • Kidney toxicity and reduced kidney function
  • Blood effects (anemia and changes in various cell types)
  • Cardiovascular toxicity and morbidity, and
  • Reproductive and developmental toxicity.

Here’s the roll call vote from yesterday. The one Democrat NO vote was cast by House Leader Chuck Schumer. The reason for that was so that he could recall the vote for a later day if something exactly like this happened.

About Once A Soldier: Starting in 2017, our mission is to limit the scars of Veteran suicide. We offer prevention services and postvention services. We reach a national audience and our goal is to become the preferred channel for those who want to help Veteran families who need our services. With 17 Veteran suicides a day in 2021, we believe our two niche services will make a difference to each family and to our nation.

Why Did Republicans Vote YES Then NO To Aid Veteran Burn Pit Victims?

Why Did Republicans Vote YES Then NO To Aid Veteran Burn Pit Victims?

Political Games Only Give Veterans More Burn Pit Fallout

US Veteran burn pit victims suffered another scar yesterday when Republicans flip-flopped their vote to deny medical support from exposure to the toxic fires. Twenty-four Republicans and one Democratic voted against the now ironically-title Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) Act the second time around.

Despite the messages from those who voted no, here’s what changed from vote 1 to vote 2:

“(e) NOT A TAXABLE BENEFIT.—A contract buy out for a covered health care professional under subsection (a) shall not be considered a taxable benefit or event for the covered health care professional.”

Original version full text: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/3967/text

Revised version full text: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/3373/text

So why did they do it?

Short answer: It appears to be payback for Biden’s passage of the the $369 million climate and energy package. Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, who also flip-flopping on this vote before he made a sweat heart deal for his home state. Back – to back wins was maybe too much for McConnell to bear this close to a mid-term election?  

“The PACT Act as written includes a budget gimmick that would allow $400 billion of current law spending to be moved from the discretionary to the mandatory spending category. This provision is completely unnecessary to achieve the PACT Act’s stated goal of expanding health care and other benefits for veterans,” said Pat Toomey from PA.

But there’s two problems with that statement: 

The price tag for PACT is $400 billion.

And if by omission he’s inferring that that was what was change – discretionary to mandatory category – it did not change. The only text changed form 1-2 is noted above. Visit here to see the full texts of both. Sounds to me like I’d rather have it as mandatory and so would the Veterans and their families. Spend it all!

And how you “sneak in” $400 billion dollars is also hard to imagine.

Denis McDonough, secretary of Veterans Affairs, followed Toomey on “State of the Union”, explaining that the $400 billion fund Republicans object to is included in the bill to ensure that “all the spending for this program is for the veterans exposed to these toxins.”

With easier access to the care our Veterans need, this bill would have broaden the understanding of the medical issues associated with the burn pits, therefore alleviating the suffering for millions still untreated. Those Veterans are angry as to them it seems the party that supposedly cares more for them could not care less.

The PACT Act was initially passed by the Senate – including 83 Republican Senators – before having to back to the House to fix a technical mistake. The actual mistake could be as simple as a comma or a number. In any event, it voted on again Thursday and 61 Republicans flipped their votes. Watching the videos from the floor of the Senate shows Republicans shaking hands and fist-bumping each other after the vote. It would appear that this cruel disgrace to our Veterans was more about the upcoming midterms in one month than helping Veterans and their families.

For Vietnam veterans, they’ve seen this before with the governments denial of toxic fall-out from Agent Orange. From our position, this is just one more factor as to why we’re losing the war on Veteran suicide. If the VA doesn’t care about them, it only adds to the emotional and medical locals they’re forced to carry. We can do better.

But that was yesterday. Today, the nonprofit group Burn Pits 360 is staging a sit-in at the Capital and demanding answers.

“We got punched in the gut, right by those 25 senators that flipped their vote from yesterday,” Burn Pits 360 Executive Director and co-founder Rosie Torres told The Hill late Thursday.

Torres said the veterans rights group was spending the night on the steps of the U.S. Capitol “as a message to those senators, those 25 senators and asking them to right the wrong.”

“They shouldn’t be here, and to know that we’re in that America where they’ve turned their backs on veterans and their families are sick and dying. It’s disgusting. But if this is what we have to do to get the bill passed, and at all costs, all measures, we’re going to get it done,” she said.

The group later tweeted it would remain outside the Capitol until the next cloture vote on the bill, which is expected Monday.

What Is a Burn Pit?

A burn pit is an area devoted to open-air combustion of trash. The use of burn pits was a common waste disposal practice
at military sites outside the United States, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Smoke from these pits contained substances that may have short- and long-term health effects, especially for those who were exposed for long periods or those more prone to illness such as individuals with pre-existing asthma or other lung or heart conditions.

Waste products in burn pits include, but are not limited to: chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, metal/aluminum cans, munitions and other unexploded ordnance, petroleum and lubricant products, plastics and Styrofoam, rubber, wood, and discarded food. Burning waste in pits can create more hazards compared to controlled high-temperature burning—like in a commercial incinerator.

The VA fact sheet on burn pits says veteran burn pit exposures to high levels of specific, individual chemicals that may be present in burn pit smoke have been shown to cause long-term effects, in some cases, on: skin, respiratory system, eyes, liver, kidneys, central nervous system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, peripheral nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract.

The IOM study  – supplied by this group – found these health effects associated with five or more chemicals it detected at Joint Base Balad in Iraq:

  • Neurologic effects and reduced central nervous system function
  • Liver toxicity and reduced liver function
  • Cancer (stomach, respiratory, and skin cancer; leukemia; and others)
  • Respiratory toxicity and morbidity
  • Kidney toxicity and reduced kidney function
  • Blood effects (anemia and changes in various cell types)
  • Cardiovascular toxicity and morbidity, and
  • Reproductive and developmental toxicity.

 

Here’s the roll call vote from yesterday. The one Democrat NO vote was cast by House Leader Chuck Schumer. The reason for that was so that he could recall the vote for a later day if something exactly like this happened.

About Once A Soldier: Starting in 2017, our mission is to limit the scars of Veteran suicide. We offer prevention services and postvention services. We reach a national audience and our goal is to become the preferred channel for those who want to help Veteran families who need our services. With 17 Veteran suicides a day in 2021, we believe our two niche services will make a difference to each family and to our nation.