(U.S. Senate) – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester took to the Senate floor today urging his colleagues to quickly pass his bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 ahead of consideration of the historic bill later this week. Following Tester’s remarks, the bill cleared the Senate’s first procedural vote 86-12. A final vote will occur in the coming days.
“Generation after generation, war after war, servicemembers have returned home only to face yet another battle here at home when seeking the care and the benefits they desperately need,” said Chairman Tester. “Because Washington has been unwilling, simply unwilling, to give the Department of Veterans Affairs the tools to take care of our veterans. Our men and women in uniform answered the call of duty. They held up their end of the bargain. So we need to hold up ours.”
He continued, “Right now, veterans across this country are the ones paying for that cost of war—and they can’t any longer. No more empty promises. We’ve got a unique opportunity to make history with this comprehensive toxic exposure package that’ll recognize our veterans’ service and their sacrifice. We are too close to fail.”
Earlier in the day, Tester held a bipartisan press conference alongside Ranking Member Jerry Moran, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich, John Boozman, Kirsten Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown, Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), the Robinson family, and veterans advocates Jon Stewart and John Feal to underscore the need to pass this comprehensive, bipartisan package.
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 will deliver all eras of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the first time in the nation’s history. Among its many priorities, the legislation would expand health care for Post-9/11 combat veterans, create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure, expand VA’s list of presumptions, and improve resources to support VA’s claims processing.
Tester is the only member of the Montana delegation who sits on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He has long been dedicated to identifying a path forward for unaddressed toxic exposure issues alongside VSOs—remaining committed to delivering comprehensive relief to all generations of toxic-exposed veterans. Last month, he announced a bipartisan agreement on the comprehensive bill and expressed urgency that a Senate floor vote take place swiftly.
Watch Tester’s floor speech HERE.
***PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO***