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Lawrence veteran frustrated by U.S. Senate's delay in passing PACT Act

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Burn Pit Iraq
SSG DAVID FISCHER, SDARNG
/
National Archives
Two firefighters take a short break during a mop-up operation in a burn pit at a landfill on Forward Operating Base Speicher, near Tikrit, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

A health care bill that would provide benefits to veterans exposed to harmful toxins overseas was blocked by 25 U.S. Senate Republicans, including two from Missouri and one from Kansas.

A bipartisan veterans health care bill, known as the PACT Act, failed to pass in the U.S. Senate last month. Despite the initiative succeeding 84-14 in June, a technical error forced a second vote in July, and the bill fell short of the 60 votes needed to pass the filibuster.

U.S. Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; Roy Blunt R-Mo.; and Roger Marshall, R-Kan., voted against the bill, which would remove the burden of proof for ill veterans who were exposed to harmful toxins while serving overseas.

Patrick Murray, director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Legislative Service, said Republicans are buying into misinformation that unchecked spending was added to the bill, and challenged individuals to read the bills for themselves.

Air Force veteran Brooklynne Mosley said she's disappointed the bill hasn't passed.

"We tend to hand over blank checks when it comes to fighting wars," Mosley said. "But when it comes to taking care of the people who are part of those wars, we usually we start counting our change and trying to figure out if we have it."

On Tuesday afternoon, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the Senate would vote on the PACT Act at 5 p.m. EST. The bill is expected to pass.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz