(U.S. Senate) – The Senate today passed the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022—bipartisan legislation championed by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester to deliver all eras of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the first time in the nation’s history. The legislation is unchanged from last week when Republicans blocked it at the 11th hour.
Tester took to the Senate floor today, just before the final vote, to urge his colleagues to support the legislation, and delivered an impassioned speech after the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 86-11.
“Today, the Senate took a historic step today to deliver all eras of veterans their earned support through passage of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act,” said Chairman Tester. “For hundreds of thousands of veterans, generations of our all-volunteer military and their families, this bill is putting us on a path to finally recognizing the toxic wounds of war. This bill was a long time coming to right the wrongs to our toxic-exposed veterans—and it’s the bill our veterans and their families deserve, are counting on, and cannot wait any longer for. Our men and women in uniform held up their end of the bargain, and I’m proud we’re finally holding up ours.”
Last month, the PACT Act passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority vote of 84-14. Due to the removal of a minor health care provider provision, the bill had to be reconsidered in the Senate before it could go to the President’s desk. Last week, the cloture vote on the legislation failed by 55-42. Tester was the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to vote to advance the bill.
Named after Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson who died in 2020 from toxic exposure as a result of his military service, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act is comprehensive legislation to 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 service presumptions, and improve resources to support VA’s claims processing.
As the only member of the Montana delegation who sits on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester has long been dedicated to identifying a path forward for unaddressed toxic exposure issues alongside Veterans Service Organizations—remaining committed to delivering comprehensive relief to all generations of toxic-exposed veterans. In May, he announced a bipartisan agreement on the comprehensive bill.
Watch Tester’s floor speech HERE.