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PACT ACT 28 July 2022 Senate Vote – Another Example of Media And Political Deceit

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Yesterday (28 July 2022), I opened the internet news and found the following headlines:

NBC – “Blindsided veterans erupt in fury after Senate GOP tanks toxic burn pit bill”

The Washington Post – “Republicans stall bill to aid veterans exposed to toxic burn pits”

VFW – “VFW Expresses Outrage Over Senators Failing to Advance PACT Act”

Military Times “New benefits for burn pit victims in limbo after Senate Republicans block plan”

In the year 2022, I am used to media bias but the unity of headlines as well as military advocacy groups chiming in prompted me to dig deeper.  Predictably, google and bing algorithms steered toward the above stories.  I am also interested in the story as I am a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, spent nearly 30 months near burn pits myself, and have had lung problems since my first of 4 deployments.  Although I cannot prove it, I suspect I also had some effects of the burn pits so I really wanted to get to the backstory.  There had to be a pragmatic reason why 41 GOP senators voted against the veteran benefit bill that had broad bipartisan and public support.

Deep in the NBC story, the reporters acknowledged that “Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., who voted against the legislation in June, has remained vocally critical of the bill. Yesterday, after the vote, he said that the bill included a “budget gimmick” that moved $400 billion over 10 years from “discretionary to the mandatory spending category,” which he considered unreasonable.”1  

I then investigated what the House must have debated about the bill and found Claudia Tenney’s (R-NY) Congressional Representative Website:  “I voted “No” on the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.I strongly support efforts to deliver much-needed relief to veterans suffering from exposure to dangerous toxins… Unfortunately, this legislation, as considered by the House of Representatives, used an accounting trick to shift the spending from discretionary to mandatory, which could open the door to even further reckless spending by President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader Schumer despite inflation recently hitting a 41-year-high of 9.1  However, I will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve upon this concern and ensure that we keep our commitment to veterans and deliver the care, resources, and support they need and deserve.”2

The 28 JUL 2022 US Senate vote on the PACT Act happened just hours after Senator Manchin changed his mind and supported the $739 Billion Inflation Reduction Act, which is the watered down version of Biden’s elusive Build Back Better Act.  With the $400 Billion accounting trick built into the PACT Act, the Democrats have over $1 Trillion in new spending planned as the country officially enters a recession (2 negative growth quarters in a row) and has 9.1% inflation largely due to excessive government spending on Biden’s watch.  Even Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos, who is an ardent supporter of the democrat party commented in May 2022, “They know inflation hurts the neediest most.  Remember the administration tried their best to add another $3.5 Trillion to federal spending.  They failed but if but if they had succeeded, inflation would be even higher than it is today and inflation is at a 40 year high.”3  

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So looking at the big picture, it is apparent the democrats snuck in a provision that would allow $400 Billion in additional spending unrelated to veterans benefits into the veterans bill, knowing they could get a public outcry if the bill was blocked because they had so many veterans groups lined up to support the bill, thereby politicizing veterans’ health issues for a quick victory in unrelated spending.  Worse, this extra $1 Trillion in spending will likely make inflation worse which will harm the very veterans they purport to be helping.  After the surreal embarrassment of August 2021 with the US retreat from Afghanistan, I consider this the second Democrat insult to Afghanistan and Iraq veterans in a year.  This should have been a ‘clean’ bill with no political strings or tricks attached.

The GOP, for its part, should have anticipated the blowback from the vote and failed to release a public message to expose the truth hidden in the legislation.  Hopefully they can remedy the situation ASAP and educate America on what the democrats are doing behind the scenes and what the effects on the US economy and inflation will likely be.  That being said, if they can convince the democrats to remove the insane budget ‘fat’ from the bill and turn the PACT Act into a clean bill devoid of any political pork, they should support it so the veterans can receive help and the House and Senate can return to important issues such as fixing the US economy.

John Hughes, MD

Emergency Physician

USMA Class of 1996 (#1 graduate)

3rd Generation West Pointer

4 combat tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan

1Chan, Melissa et al.  “Blindsided veterans erupt in fury after Senate GOP tanks toxic burn pit bill.”  NBCNews.com  28 JUL 2022.

2https://tenney.house.gov/about/my-votes-explained

3https://twitter.com/JeffBezos/status/1526239684392669184?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1526239684392669184%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.foxbusiness.com%2Feconomy%2Fjeff-bezos-joe-biden-inflation-misdirection-misunderstanding

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2 comments

Ben Colder July 30, 2022 at 9:54 am

The veterans are nothing but pawns and no one really cares about them they have become cry babies i am a vet but have never even been to the veterans for anything and have no plans to do so to hell with the veterans administration where it takes all day long to even see anyone if you can even get in.I am getting to the place I am not even going to admit I have ever been in the Army I am not proud of that fact and most of the vets think they are owed something maybe some of them but why put yourself through that nightmare not gonna do it I have my Dr and am ok with what she does .I don’t know what has become of todays vets i am old enough to remember the world war two vets most of them never talked about it and never complained like the cry babies now do .I think they should do away with the vets ad.and put all the vets into regular Drs and have the gov pay for their care some of these guys do need that at least .All the government ever is make things worse.

Reply
Ron Lundmark July 30, 2022 at 12:17 pm

Ben, I’m a Vietnam Vet and am on VA healthcare. You probably remember the VA healthcare for years as bad, but since Trump the system is great. Nobodies complaining that I see and I belong to the American Legion – no complaints for years. I wait for maybe 5-10 minutes and the doctor sees me. My meds all are mailed to me in a timely manner. I had a problem with my skin and the VA made an appointment with a local dermatologist for me. Worked out great. You are the baby complainer. Wake up.

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