Our country has a moral obligation to care for veterans suffering the impacts of toxic exposure from their service in defense of our republic; that’s our side of the deal for enjoying the blessings of liberty. At the same time, Congress has a duty to do this in a manner that won’t threaten the future of the country veterans fought and died to defend.
I still have serious lingering concerns about the VA’s ability to implement the PACT Act effectively. I also have concerns about the implications of Democrats’ budgetary deception that will result in $400 billion of additional spending, and that will spike the cost of the bill to nearly $680 billion during a time of historic inflation.
Weeks before the House took up the PACT Act for consideration, I sent a letter to leadership outlining these concerns. It is a shame, though not a surprising one, that Democrats refused to even consider my amendment to offset the cost of the PACT Act with unspent COVID-19 funds and to reclassify the $400 billion as discretionary spending – thus avoiding the dangers of putting hundreds of billions on autopilot.
Had we adopted these simple and common sense changes, I could have support this legislation. Congress must restore serious debate, a legitimate amendment process, and thereby respect for building consensus – especially on issues as important as caring for veterans.
As a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, I will remain focused on ensuring the VA implements this legislation in a manner that provides appropriate and timely care and benefits to toxic exposed veterans.