President Biden signed the PACT Act today, less than two weeks after Republican Senators pulled the rug out from under it by voting down the bill. Now law, the PACT Act will open up live-saving medical access to hundred of thousands of Veterans exposed to burn pit toxins, the effects of which include cancer to lung disease. While we are still shaking our heads over a no-win decision by Republicans to vote it down (after voting Yes for it less than two weeks prior) we wondered about their record in the last decade on similar Veteran-related bills in Congress. Is there a track record that needs to be reviewed and reassessed?
Despite veterans benefits and assistance programs being widely popular with the public for centuries, congressional Republicans continue to vote against programs that would provide life-saving assistance to veterans. Here are a some of the more high-profile examples of Republicans voting against bills or cutting funding that would help save the lives of Veterans and their families:
In July of 2022, 11 Senate Republicans, including Mitt Romney and Rand Paul, voted against a bipartisan measure (the PACT Act) that is designed to help veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals while deployed abroad.
In 2015, the GOP-controlled Senate voted down a bill to provide $1 billion over five years to provide jobs for unemployed veterans. The bill was fully funded, and would not have added any additional money to the deficit.
In 2014, Senate Republicans shot down one of the largest pieces of veterans legislation in recent history. The Comprehensive Veterans Health Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014 would have repealed the military retiree cost-of-living adjustment reduction, and would have protected veteran pensions and educational payments from future Congressional budget fights. It would have also authorized the construction of more than 20 community-based outpatient clinics to serve veterans in rural and remote areas.
In 2017, Former President Donald Trump and congressional Republican leaders put forth budget proposals that would have done great damage to the economic security of veterans and their families—all to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and corporations.
In 2011, Republican Paul Ryan and the House of Representatives attempted to end VA healthcare benefits for disabled veterans who are Priority 7 & 8. This means veterans with conditions not recognized by the VA, like certain diseases from Agent Orange exposure, would have to pay for healthcare out of pocket if they didn’t have another service-connected disability.
It is widely believed throughout the United States that our brave and dedicated troops are some of our most important assets. When conflict arises, we can trust that they will boldly leap into action to protect and defend our nation, making immeasurable sacrifices in the process. Since the inception of our country, presidents and politicians from all political parties have enacted laws and agencies specifically designed to help support veterans and military members after they return home.
Once A Soldier understands the sacrifice that service members and their families have made. We believe that all US veterans deserve support, and access to high quality physical and mental health care. There’s always pork added to any bill, and they get passed all the time. If that is being used as to why a Senator or Representative won’t vote yes on a bill for Veterans, we demand that they put Veterans first and vote Yes.
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.