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25 Republicans Have Chance To Save PACT ACT For Military Toxic Exposure Victims

Here is a story raising awareness about veterans affairs over toxic exposed veterans and the PACT ACT. Paul Ehline Memorial Ride watched the PACT Act in its final form die on the Senate floor.

Sgt Paul Ehline in Mong Village, Circa 1968.

Styled the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT) Act of 2022, this sweeping legislation was set to deliver generations of servicemembers exposed to toxins long denied health care and restitution benefits. It was designed to improve health care for certain vets and grew to cover the Vietnam era, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and sure Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune, etc. The health care legislation had a few minor changes that had to be made.

And Wednesday was the day sick veterans and their families should have validated and verified that their voices were heard and honored. Initial reports suggest many Senate Republicans changed their votes at the last minute, giving Senate Democratic leaders plenty of ammo to fire at them for breaking their promise to address comprehensive toxics act legislation.

As a military veteran’s nonprofit, we don’t want to risk supporting or lobbying for or against legislation and lose our ability to help our members deal with Veterans Affairs and others who can get them needed health care.

But we can safely say the PACT Act represents years of work by compassionate advocates like Bob Whitley of Whitley Law Firm in North Carolina to get benefits to cancer victims, many of who we are trying to assist today.

Many Republican VETS OUTRAGED!

We can also say that a vast swath of Republican voters (Vets, active duty, extended Marine Corps. family, and even the plaintiff in the seminal U.S. gun rights case, Heller v. DC) is outraged that PACT did not pass with significant Republican support. So we will report from the perspective of a nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about service-related cancer and PTSD. They probably never thought they’d be on the side of left-wing entertainers like veterans advocate Jon Stewart condemning the 25 Republican lawmakers who changed their procedural vote right before their upcoming vacations. But normally, conservative and traditional veterans groups have a long history of forming loose alliances as “force multipliers,” even with democratic lawmakers.

Many of the goals and findings in the PACT ACT and its drafters align with ours, to raise awareness about toxic chemical exposure on military bases, and improve veterans’ health care. We wholly approve of Democrats or their Republican colleagues who support dying veterans and others. The Bill voted on is said to go a long way to ensure benefits are available for burn pit victims, Agent Orange exposure victims, workers and family members exposed to groundwater contaminants, and all who have answered the call of duty when their country called. Toxic substances are not something we bargained for when we joined, at least not toxins created by our own side. Friendly fire is one thing, but friendly chemicals being fused into veterans’ blood, lungs and brain are different.

  • Vets and Families Scared?

Many of our members are worried and don’t understand the consequences of the holdout Republican “no votes,” so below, we will cover it and what other staunch Republicans say about the Republicans who sank the bill. You have probably seen a lot of this on the news lately.

Michael Ehline at First Recon HQ, Camp Pen

West Coast Marines Still Don’t Get Justice?

We considered it a victory for toxic cancer exposure vets to finally have restitution rights over certain illnesses. Many disabled vets say the Bill does not go far enough, which is why consumer attorney, Michael Ehline, is volunteering his time as a private lawyer to make these rules and benefits extend to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Marine Corps Air Station Tustin [MCAS “H”], and Camp Pendleton.

Right now, the sweeping benefits the Republicans denied vets would have been limited to:

These are SOME people who would have benefitted FROM the toxic chemical exposure bill:

  • Vietnam Police Action Vets
  • Gulf War One Vets
  • Afghan War Vets and others
  • Vets Stationed at Camp Lejeune.                         

Why Did So Many Republicans Change Their Votes?

Attorney Michael Ehline, in his capacity as a private lawyer, supports the same measure that previously passed the Senate with Republican votes by a strong margin (84-14) back in June and again two weeks ago by a 342-88 vote. Again, some small technical changes needed to be made to the Bill mandating it be sent back to the house. That language was added and was expected to pass procedurally by the Senate yesterday, Wednesday, July 27, 2022, according to militarytimes.com.

However, 41 Senate Republicans blocked the measure, condemning many veterans to an uncertain future, say the Democrats. Most people didn’t expect Republican lawmakers like Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to change their vote to a yes. He renewed his objections to how the money connected to the measure (about $300 billion over ten years) would be accounted for during appropriations.

The concern is over why purportedly shoo-in votes had been changed and why Republicans, who normally bend over backward to help these most conservative constituents, would switch their yes votes to no votes. Below we have provided a list of the others who went against this legislation supporting military vets once we cover the story.

Did Politics Get in the Way of Justice?

The timing here is that Democratic leaders announced plans for a comprehensive budget reconciliation measure after a holdout dem agreed to a new tax and spending package, apparently in a completely different matter. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., produced an outline budget reconciliation deal right before the vote. The GOP caucus is staunchly opposed to this neutered version of “Build Back Better.”

What the Dems Say

Democratic leaders say this is why the Republicans denied the veteran’s the benefits they and their loved ones deserve.

According to Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont: “This Eleventh-hour act of cowardice will actively harm this country’s veterans and their families.” … “Republicans chose today to rob generations of toxic-exposed veterans across this country of the health care and benefits they so deservedly and desperately need.” …. “Make no mistake; more veterans will suffer and die as a result.”

Here are the Eight Republicans Who Stood Up For PACT

It appears that eight Senate Republicans and the originals who did not change their votes are:

  1. Moran (R-KS), Yea (RANKING: Senate Veterans Affairs Committee member Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, we also shocked.)
  2. Boozman (R-AR), Yea
  3. Capito (R-WV), Yea
  4. Collins (R-ME), Yea
  5. Graham (R-SC), Yea
  6. Grassley (R-IA), Yea
  7. Hoeven (R-ND), Yea
  8. Rubio (R-FL), Yea.

The above eight in FAVOR of PACT had no explanation about the holdout Republicans. Republican leaders did not publicly explain the reasons behind the shocking move or what other additions were needed between supporting the legislation before they didn’t.

Republican Leaders Unavailable for Comment

Several lawyers and military veterans we know attempted to contact the 42 politicians to hear their side. So far, no one has agreed to explain their reasoning, and we want to hear their stories about the legislation and sudden U-turn. 

Because the Senate takes a month-long recess, beginning Aug. 5, 2022, the Paul Ehline Memorial Ride wanted to remind people the PACT ACT is scheduled for another vote on Monday. We are getting inundated with calls from people praying the PACT ACT would be signed by President Biden with heavy hearts. We wanted to report that your cries are being felt and heard.

MONDAY – One Last Chance Before Senators Take a Vacation

The renewed vote on Monday gives you time to raise self-awareness and perhaps even reach out to your local Senators to find out what they need to move forward. If these legislators go on a break without passing PACT, people like Dick Heller and other conservatives are none too happy about it. A vast swath of vets and their families are saying unless brave Republicans put vets over politics, vets will be left behind again.

One In Five Veterans Will Wait During the Vacation?

Yes. If the ACT IS passed, about one in five living American veterans will potentially receive restitution from the PACT ACT benefits. For veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bill creates a presumption of service connection to illness. It covers 23 respiratory ailments and cancers related to the smoke from burn pits. As Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller had highlighted in his comments over the botched Afghanistan withdrawal, burn pits were used extensively in those battle zones. They were devised to dispose of a combination of waste products, including human waste, plastics, and other toxic chemicals. Many vets we have interviewed agree with what Dick Heller had to say about his disappointments.   

Dick Heller Disappointed by Republican “NO” Votes to PACT Act

Dick Heller, Michael Ehline and others at 5th District.

Dick Heller is the original plaintiff in the Heller vs. District of Columbia gun case, Pres. of Heller Foundation. He continues to fight for veterans’ Gun Rights. Heller said he was extremely disappointed upon learning that the most comprehensive legislation in history to help burn pit victims and those afflicted by toxic water ailments like cancer was dealt such a defeating blow the other day.

This matters because the Spearhead of Second Amendment Rights, a U.S. veteran himself, is usually angry at what he refers to as “anti-Civil Rights Democrats” for trying to use legislation and activist judges to “disarm” the “law-abiding citizens.”

Heller Says Vets Before Dishonor

But keeping with Heller’s Pro USA mentality, this time, the former Army Airborne soldier is mad over Republicans voting “NO” to the PACT Act. Heller told the Paul Ehline Memorial Ride he was flabbergasted when he learned that this comprehensive toxic exposure legislation was expected to pass without a hitch, yet it wasn’t. 

Heller said Republicans turned their backs on seriously injured veterans and their families for unknown reasons. However, “for dozens of freedom-loving conservatives to change their votes, like this, some UN-Patriotic activities must have ensued in the smoke-filled rooms,” said Heller.

USMC Camp Pendleton LAV, Las Pulgas Road.

Some History and Provisions of PACT ACT

PACT provides for restitution that legislators style “benefits” on behalf of certain veterans exposed to or facing the following conditions:

  • Radiation exposure – Anything connected with deployments during Cold War
  • Agent Orange – Related hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy tied to Vietnam-era toxins. This is sweeping, as it applies to vets stationed in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Guam during Vietnam military activities, for the very first time, styled as “Agent Orange presumptive policy.”
  • Gulf War Syndrome – Lengthens the medical claims timeline extension to obtain benefits. (Mandates fresh medical exams for all veterans making toxic chemical exposure claims.)
  • Camp Lejeune – Certain Enumerated Victims.

Veterans advocates and many Democrats are scheduled to continue rallying for the PACT ACT passage. So far, we have seen no Republican lawmakers getting in front of this, which is surprising, considering that the Pro 2A combat-oriented Marines vote overwhelmingly Republican, as does the U.S. military in general when compared to civilians.

“Donors from … Marine Corps overwhelmingly favored Republicans, sending 74 and 81 percent respectively of their contributions to GOP candidates and causes.” – Source.

The good news, depending on whether you support veterans, is that Chamber leaders found a path forward for the legislation with a renewed vote for Monday.

List of Republican Senators in Your District Who SWITCHED their YES to “No” on PACT ACT

As noted, we understand the original nay votes were not going to go yes. But here is a list of the Republicans who changed their votes and went against cloture we found on Twitter here. Take a look and see if you recognize them.

Republican Vote Switchers

Here is the Complete Republican Nay list from the official U.S. Senate Website Roll Call

  1. Barrasso (R-WY)
  2. Blackburn (R-TN)
  3. Blunt (R-MO)
  4. Braun (R-IN)
  5. Burr (R-NC)
  6. Cassidy (R-LA)
  7. Cornyn (R-TX)
  8. Cotton (R-AR)
  9. Cramer (R-ND)
  10. Crapo (R-ID)
  11. Cruz (R-TX)
  12. Daines (R-MT)
  13. Ernst (R-IA)
  14. Fischer (R-NE)
  15. Hagerty (R-TN)
  16. Hawley (R-MO)
  17. Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
  18. Inhofe (R-OK)
  19. Johnson (R-WI)
  20. Kennedy (R-LA)
  21. Lankford (R-OK)
  22. Lee (R-UT)
  23. Lummis (R-WY)
  24. Marshall (R-KS)
  25. McConnell (R-KY)
  26. Paul (R-KY)
  27. Portman (R-OH)
  28. Risch (R-ID)
  29. Romney (R-UT)
  30. Rounds (R-SD)
  31. Sasse (R-NE)
  32. Schumer (D-NY)
  33. Scott (R-FL)
  34. Scott (R-SC)
  35. Shelby (R-AL)
  36. Sullivan (R-AK)
  37. Thune (R-SD
  38. Tillis (R-NC)
  39. Toomey (R-PA)
  40. Tuberville (R-AL)
  41. Wicker (R-MS)
  42. Young (R-IN)

As noted above, Schumer made a no vote, as the only Democrat to do so, to try and get the package passed one last time. So now it’s up for a vote on Monday. We hope this article raised awareness and gave you some insight as to how legislation works and how it’s affecting our veterans. We hope you can also see that voters see no distinction between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to vets. God bless our vets, and we wish you a safe trip while you are out there riding motorcycles or attending any memorial rides for veterans.

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