And their actions speak volumes:
Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr voted Thursday against the bill they helped craft that would benefit veterans from Camp Lejeune who were exposed to toxic chemicals in the base’s water for nearly three decades. A version of this bill did pass the House 256-174 in March, with mixed results from North Carolina’s 13 representatives. Reps. David Rouzer, Patrick McHenry, Madison Cawthorn, Dan Bishop, Ted Budd and Virginia Foxx, all Republicans, voted against the bill.
The Honoring our PACT Act of 2021 would provide health care through the Department of Veteran Affairs to veterans exposed to toxic substances, ensures veterans aren’t forced to prove their exposure before receiving care and makes improvements to the department’s process for receiving care for exposure.
This subject is not new to BlueNC readers; it's been on our radar for over 12 years. Understand, this bill doesn't "give away" a bunch of taxpayers' dollars, it merely provides health care treatment for military and civilians recklessly exposed to toxic chemicals while working for the DoD. And big surprise: that is expensive. It's also not surprising the VA's budget has grown exponentially over the last twenty years thanks to our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. $300 Billion and rising. But pay attention to Randall Stagner in this clip:
If you noticed my bolding above, Burr and Tillis initially supported this and helped write the Senate's version of the bill. But when it came time to actually do something instead of just talking about it, all of a sudden it's too expensive. And we can expect the same him-hawing around from Ted Budd if he's elected to the Senate. Here's a letter he wrote to Pelosi on an early iteration of the bill:
I write to urge you to expeditiously bring to the floor S. 3541: Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act. A successful vote in the House of Representatives will send this important legislation to the President’s desk.
The Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act passed the Senate unanimously via a voice vote on February 16, 2022. Every member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee cosponsored the bill. Its House companion legislation (H.R. 6659) has 92 cosponsors and received 203 votes when it was offered as a substitute amendment to H.R. 3967 on March 3, 2022.
Our post-9/11 veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other toxic materials desperately need the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to recognize the connection between their illnesses and their service. Since 9/11, the VA has denied roughly 70% of veterans' claims for care related to burn pit exposure. Time is of the essence, and S. 3541 represents the most prudent and practical vehicle that Congress has at this moment to make good on our promise to our nation’s warriors.
The Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act takes important steps to extend veteran eligibility for medical services. The bill also increases VA research into and resources for identifying and screening toxic exposure at a scope and pace the VA can effectively handle.
Congress has an obligation to care for our veterans who made significant sacrifices in the preservation of our freedoms during the War on Terror. I am confident that S. 3541 will overwhelmingly pass the House. Therefore, given how long burn pit exposed veterans have waited for the care they deserve, the House must advance this critical legislation immediately.
Which he no doubt used to fish for campaign dollars from veterans. But when it came time to actually direct funding to help veteran victims of toxic contamination, he cast a big, fat "Nay" in their direction. He doesn't deserve to sit in either house of Congress.