(U.S. Senate) – After sustained efforts from Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, President Joe Biden signed into law the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022—bipartisan legislation championed by the Senator to deliver multiple generations 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.
“This is a historic moment that has been months—even decades—in the making,” said Chairman Tester. “For generations, toxic-exposed veterans have been left to fight our government to get the health care and benefits they have earned. I’m proud to say after today, this fight is over. I’m grateful to Ranking Member Jerry Moran, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Mark Takano, our colleagues, Veterans Service Organizations, veterans’ advocates, and the Biden Administration for making this possible. Together, we are keeping our end of the bargain for promises made to our men and women who served in uniform.”
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 worked with Veterans Service Organizations to identify a path forward for unaddressed toxic exposure issues, while remaining committed to delivering relief to the many different eras of toxic-exposed veterans. In May, he announced a bipartisan agreement on the comprehensive bill.
In June, 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. After initially being blocked by Republicans at the 11th hour, the Senate again passed the bill last week by a vote of 86-11.