Sen. Tillis votes against bill providing health benefits for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals

Sen. Tillis votes against bill providing health benefits for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis likes to portray himself as a man who loves our country and our military, yet he has now voted twice against a veterans health care bill – one that he and Sen. Richard Burr helped write.

The Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, which will provide additional benefits to veterans exposed to toxic burn pits and toxic water, including those at Camp Lejeune, had support from more than two-dozen Republicans – but not Tillis or Burr. After three votes, the bill finally passed on Tuesday by an 86-11 margin – with Tillis still voting against it.

  • Tillis said he voted against the law because it would have put the Veterans Administration (VA) in control of implementing the act, and he has “reservations about the [VA’s] ability” to “effectively and efficiently implement any comprehensive toxic exposure legislation.”
  • Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine whose daughter died from leukemia at age 9 – an illness linked to poisoned water at Camp Lejeune – told WRAL that, “It’s time for these people to quit playing political games with people’s lives…Our troops did their duties, it’s high time these politicians do theirs…this literally makes me sick to my stomach.”
  • The Republican Party continues to show that whether the issue is abortion, marriage equality, access to contraception, veterans’ health, fair elections, or a host of other concerns, they are consistently on the wrong side and do not have our best interests in mind.

In typical fashion, Republicans blamed Democrats for their own failure. Based on the response to their games, voters and veterans didn’t buy it this time around.

“We’ve seen partisanship and games within Congress for years,” Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said after the July vote. “But what is shocking is that so many senators would literally be willing to play with veterans’ lives so openly like this.”

Bottom Line:

It’s great news that the PACT Act passed the Senate by a wide margin this week, but Tillis’ refusal to support his own bill solidifies the need to elect leaders who actually care for the people of our state, and whose actions match the lip service they pay to support our troops.

Patrick Zarcone

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