The Senate passed legislation to provide health care to US military veterans exposed to toxic burns less than a week after Republicans blocked legislation many of them had previously supported.
Every senator caucus with Democrats and many Republicans voted in favor of the legislation, with only 11 senators voting against the bill. On Wednesday last week, 25 Republicans changed their vote on the legislation they had previously supported when it passed 84 to 14 in favor of the bill.
But the Senate had to have another vote on the legislation after the House passed the legislation on July 14. Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, specifically opposed a “budget gimmick” that would have allowed $400 billion to shift from discretionary to mandatory spending.
In turn, Mr. Toomey led the charge and 25 senators reversed their vote. In response, many veterans camped outside the US Capitol in protest of the Senate blocking the legislation. said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York The independent spoke to many Republicans over the weekend and “cleared up a lot of misconceptions about where this vote is going and what it’s doing.”
“I think we’re in a really good place,” he said.
Ms. Gillibrand also defended spending on benefits as mandatory rather than discretionary spending.
“You can’t ask veterans to come to Washington every year to beg for funds for their health care,” he said. “It should be mandatory funding. That’s how it’s been written from the beginning.”
The veterans received support from TV host and comedian Jon Stewart, an outspoken advocate for veterans since leaving his chair at The daily show.
“Now if they were upset that they didn’t get their modification process fine, but I got people you know, the people down here with cancer. Well, I’m sorry you didn’t get your amendment process, but the parliamentary process shouldn’t take precedence,” Mr Stewart said. The independent. “So now we’re having a re-vote on the same bill.
Mr. Stewart also criticized the image of some Republicans on the Senate floor last week celebrating and pumping their fists after the legislation was stalled.
“The whole thing was a punch for everybody,” he said. “The truth is, everybody thought it was just a procedural vote and they were coming down here to celebrate the end of a 15-year struggle on behalf of men and women who had been poisoned and when it went the other way, and there was a celebration of it, you know , it is destructive”.
Mr. Stewart praised Democratic Senator Jon Tester, the Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, as well as Republican Senators Jerry Moran, the ranking member, and Senator John Boozman of Arkansas for championing the bill.
At the same time, some Republicans sought to blame Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for not allowing a vote on the amendments last week.
“As you know, I’m a veteran,” Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who served in the US Navy, told the Independent. “But I don’t think Schumer would use this building to increase discretionary spending.”
When asked why he voted for the bill earlier but then voted against it last week, Mr Scott said: “We didn’t have the chance. Chuck Schumer doesn’t allow modifications.”
Eric Golnick, a veteran who appeared on Capitol Hill for the vote, said the most important issue was making sure people got the care they needed.
“I want my friends to get the help they need, and not only for them but also for their families to get survivor benefits when they finally die of these incurable cancers,” she said. The independent. “That they are really taken care of. So that’s where the real anger comes from is to ensure that this should have been done many years ago.”