After a fiery outing led by Jon Stewart and several Veteran groups reprimanding Senate Republicans, the Senate has voted to pass the PACT Act, expanding health care coverage to veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their service.
Last week Senate Republicans voted to strike the bill's passing in what they claimed was a preventative measure against a budgetary trick played by the Democrats. However, several Senate Democrats believed that the Republicans did not pass it as retaliatory for striking down a previously Republican-led bill last month.
What was most surprising was that the bill had passed in the House last month with rather overwhelming support. President Biden had also been expected to sign the bill into law quickly. Jon Stewart expressed his opinions on this reversal in a speech at the capitol, expressing his disgust with politicians. In his tirade against Republicans, Stewart highlighted the hypocrisy of Republican politicians in striking down the bill when they are supposed to be the military's biggest supporters.
Advocates for the bill rushed to pass the bill before the Senate had gone into recess, but to no avail. In a comment contrasting the missions and oaths of service members and politicians, Stewart raged at the idea of these senators taking a vacation while thousands of veterans lay dying. Stewart stated, "When you fight for this country, you don't get to leave until the mission is completed, until your job is done. They don't let you just leave. And we feel that the Senate has to live up to the oath that the men and women who fight for this country have to live up to."
The bill passed through the Senate Tuesday evening in a large showing of bipartisan support, 86-11. The bill will fund research and provide expanding coverage for more than 3.5 million veterans deployed to combat zones and exposed to deadly toxins through burn pits. Over $280 million used through the next decade will aid in treating these wounds.
For those unaware of burn pits, the military has used this method to dispose of chemicals, feces, tires, and other dangerous toxins. Burning these toxins and the lack of protection led many veterans to develop several respiratory diseases, even cancer.
The bill will now make its way to President Joe Biden's desk, where he is expected to sign it into law with haste. President Biden highly supports this bill as he believes these burn pits attributed to his late son's development of cancer.