Opinion: Republicans Beware--America's Veterans Have Very, Very Long Memories

Ken Kayse

Those legislators who voted against the Honoring Our Pact Act (HR 3967) will pay the price come November.

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Photo by Daniel Páscoa on Unsplash

Background:

Every person who enlists or is drafted into one of the Armed Forces of the United States of America enters into a pact with our federal government that says, if injured while performing our duties, we are entitled to compensation and personal care at no cost to us.

There is a bill currently being discussed in the Senate that would amend our existing laws to include more disabilities from exposure to certain toxic chemicals/substances.

The full name of this bill is the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 or the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022

This bill addresses health care, presumption of service-connection, research, resources, and other matters related to veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during military service — https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/3967.

It was first introduced in Congress on June 17th, 2021 and has undergone the changes necessary to introduce the bill to the full House for a vote. The timeline of these events can be found here.

Holdup on the final vote.

Congress held a vote on this legislation, and it passed, 256–174, making it a bipartisan bill that was next sent to the Senate.

While discussing the merits of the bill, the Senate made some changes to the language included in the bill, but then voted in favor of it becoming law by a margin of 84–14, with two abstentions — again a bipartisan bill that had substantial support from both sides.

Since changes to the bill were made, it next had to be resubmitted to the House of Representatives to undergo the process of reconciliation. It passed overwhelmingly, with one minor change, which sent the bill back to the Senate.

In the most-recent vote, the measure failed by a vote of 55–42, five votes short of the 60-vote minimum required to send the legislation to the President for his signature, making it law.

There were 41 Republicans who voted against this measure, even though many of them had voted for the bill on the first vote. They are listed below.

Here are those 41 Republican senators who opposed the bill:

  • John Barrasso of Wyoming
  • Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming
  • Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee
  • Bill Hagerty of Tennessee
  • Josh Hawley of Missouri
  • Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Mike Braun of Indiana
  • Todd Young of Indiana
  • Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • John Kennedy of Louisiana
  • John Cornyn of Texas
  • Ted Cruz of Texas
  • Tom Cotton of Arkansas
  • Dan Sullivan of Arkansas
  • Kevin Cramer of North Dakota
  • Steve Daines of Montana
  • Joni Ernst of Iowa
  • Deb Fischer of Nebraska
  • Ben Sasse of Nebraska
  • Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi
  • Roger Wicker of Mississippi
  • Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
  • James Lankford of Oklahoma
  • Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
  • Mike Lee of Utah
  • Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Roger Marshall of Kansas
  • Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
  • Rand Paul of Kentucky
  • Rob Portman of Ohio
  • Mike Crapo of Idaho
  • James Risch of Idaho
  • Mike Rounds of South Dakota
  • John Thune of South Dakota
  • Rick Scott of Florida
  • Tim Scott of South Carolina
  • Richard Shelby of Alabama
  • Tommy Tuberville of Alabama
  • Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

Now, we all know how “politics makes strange bedfellows” when it comes to one-upmanship between the two parties. When it came time to pass the bill and send it to the President to be signed into law, this particular vote between the two parties was predestined to fail.

You see, this vote was an attempt by the Republicans to smack the Democrats hard for what they perceive to be a deceptive move regarding assurances there weren’t enough votes needed on prior legislation for it to pass — specifically, the Inflation Reduction Act, a.k.a. the spending bill.

The trouble is…

The problem with the Republicans’ thought process is that they didn’t factor in the huge negative effect this would have on the disabled veterans they serve.

Prior to this bill, others came before it, asking Congress to confirm that Agent Orange causes cancer, diabetes, PTSD, and heart disease.

You can check out all of the results of all the studies that have been performed that explain the effects of Agent Orange by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, a government entity well known for its amazing studies and analyses.

These veterans have already been waiting for 40–50 years for this legislation to be approved. As a disabled veteran myself, I have been waiting since 1979 for the VA to declare that hypertension can be caused by exposure to Agent Orange.

Another problem these ‘naysayers’ have is that they didn’t factor in how many veterans vote!

Strong Call to Affirmative Action

I am voting to remove my representatives in both houses and strongly encourage you to do the same — especially double-talking, two-timing Ted Cruz. Anyone who obfuscates the truth to claim innocence does not deserve anyone voting for themselves.

Thanks for reading this!

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Being a "Lefty," my writing tends to lean a little to the left, but I consider myself an Independent--I'm willing to listen to all sides. Writing gives me a chance to gather my thoughts. All my life I have been a glass-half-full believer.

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