WASHINGTON D.C., DC — A vote that would have allowed a bill to continue through the legislative process failed in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday. Senators mostly voted along party lines, with most Republicans voting to continue discussions on the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022.
Senator Marsha Blackburn (R) and Senator Bill Hagerty (R) both voted against the cloture motion, for now preventing the bill from advancing through the Senate and ensuring debate continues on it.
By approving the Wednesday vote, amendments from the House of Representatives would have then been voted on in the Senate. However, since the cloture vote failed, Senators can continue discussing possible changes to the bill.
As it stands, the bill makes it easier for veterans exposed to toxic substances to get help finding treatment through the Department of Veterans Affairs. They would be able to get mental health care as well.
The bill would extend how long toxic-exposed veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001, are eligible for VA hospital care, medical services and nursing home care, according to the Congressional Research Service.
It also establishes a presumption that veterans were exposed to hazardous materials if they served at specific places during specific times, such as if they served during some Thailand operations during the Vietnam War or in Iraq after August 2, 1990. It would also specifically expand the requirements to formally qualify as a Persian Gulf Veteran.
Blackburn submitted a proposed amendment on July 26. A statement from her office about her vote on the cloture motion is below.
“Senator Blackburn looks forward to continuing to support veterans through this bill and wants to ensure we are not providing false hope to those that put their lives on the line to defend our country."
Hagerty's office also released a statement about his vote against cloture. It is available below.
"Senator Hagerty supports the PACT Act and has made providing care for and honoring America’s veterans—including the 435,000 veterans that call Tennessee home—a priority. His procedural vote earlier this week was to allow for continued debate to improve the bill, and once debate concludes, he looks forward to supporting its passage, as he did in June when the bill previously passed the Senate.”