On Friday, NBC News reported that a combat veteran is angrily speaking out after Senate Republicans pulled a surprise reversal and blocked a bipartisan veteran care bill for which they had previously signaled support.
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT Act) creates special funding to treat veterans sickened by exposure to toxic chemicals in "burn pits" where the military incinerated waste during recent combat operations overseas. The issue has gained major prominence across the country as veterans have come forward to tell their stories of illnesses, advanced along by President Joe Biden, whose son Beau Biden passed away from brain cancer that is theorized to have been caused by burn pit exposure while he was stationed in Iraq.
"Michael Braman, 45, is one of many veterans left angry and confused after Senate Republicans suddenly tanked a widely supported measure that would have expanded medical coverage for millions of former military members exposed to toxic burn pits during their service," reported Melissa Chan. "'They’re playing games with our veterans and their families, and that’s cruelty,' Braman said. 'Our leaders of our country spit in our face by going back on this bill.'"
"The move comes two weeks after a House committee declined to advance the Maj. Richard Star amendment, which would make medically retired and severely disabled combat veterans with under 20 years of active service eligible for both disability and retirement benefits. 'I’m fuming over this,' said Braman, who is relying on the passage of both measures," said the report. Braman developed severe breathing problems after exposure to burn pits in Afghanistan.
Republicans claim they are blocking the PACT Act over concerns about a budgetary provision. Democrats have accused them of actually blocking the bill in retaliation for the release of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a reconciliation bill to funds climate reform, health care, and deficit reduction. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had threatened to sink the semiconductor manufacturing bill, the CHIPS Act, if Democrats moved forward with reconciliation. Democrats appeared to back off of a broad reconciliation package in recent weeks, only to announce it was back on hours after the CHIPS Act passed the Senate.
Comedian Jon Stewart, who has worked on securing veteran burn pit relief for years, exploded in rage over the GOP blockade, proclaiming, "If this is 'America First,' then America is f*cked!"