Democrats tee up another vote on burn pits bill for Monday
(The Hill) — Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Thursday that Democrats will try to pass a bill that would expand health care coverage for veterans exposed to toxins and burn pits a second time on Monday after Senate Republicans blocked the bill from moving forward on Wednesday.
All Democrats and eight Republicans voted to advance the Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act, but the legislation only received 55 of the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. Three senators did not vote.
Schumer said at a press conference that Democrats will “give our Republican friends another opportunity” to vote on the bill on Monday. He said Democrats offered Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) an opportunity to propose an amendment to the bill after he announced his opposition to the measure because he said it would create $400 billion in unrelated spending, which he called a “budgetary gimmick.”
Schumer said Toomey could have proposed the amendment after the bill received the 60 votes necessary to advance but insisted on the amendment being in the bill beforehand.
Schumer said he stands by his offer to Toomey and will give him the right to bring the amendment to the Senate floor and try to get the votes to support it.
The House and Senate previously passed the bill overwhelmingly, but the Senate needed to take it up again because the House made some minor changes in its version.
The bill would expand care for Vietnam War-era veterans exposed to Agent Orange and post-9/11 veterans who were exposed to burn pits and add 23 toxic and burn pit exposure conditions to the Department of Veterans Affairs database.
Veterans groups slammed Toomey and other Senate Republicans for opposing the bill, saying they blocked essential care that veterans need.
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