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Tester’s Support Leads To Passing Of Veterans Bill

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., praised the passing of the Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 during a media conference call last week.

“The last few days have been difficult to say the least,” Tester said during the call. “But we fought and fought and fought.”

Last month, the PACT Act passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority vote of 84-14. Due to the removal of a minor health care provider provision, the bill had to be reconsidered in the Senate before it could go to the president’s desk. Last week, the cloture vote on the legislation failed by a 55-42 vote. Tester took to the Senate floor on Tuesday, Aug. 2, just before the final vote, to urge his colleagues to support the legislation, and delivered an impassioned speech after the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 86-11.

“This bill isn’t Democratic or Republican, it’s an American bill,” Tester said.

The senator noted the bill could impact 66,000 veterans in Montana.

“This legislation has been decades in the making,” Tester said.

He explained that 30-50 veterans camped out at the U.S. capitol for a few days last week to demonstrate their support of the bill.

“It shows that democracy works,” Tester said. “It’s a great day for a lot of reasons.”

Named after Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson, who died in 2020 from toxic exposure as a result of his military service, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act is comprehensive legislation to expand health care for Post-9/11 combat veterans, create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure, expand VA’s list of service presumptions and improve resources to support VA’s claims processing.

“For hundreds of thousands of veterans, generations of our all-volunteer military and their families, this bill is putting us on a path to finally recognizing the toxic wounds of war,” Tester said. “This bill was a long time coming to right the wrongs to our toxic-exposed veterans — and it’s the bill our veterans and their families deserve, are counting on, and cannot wait any longer for. Our men and women in uniform held up their end of the bargain, and I’m proud we’re finally holding up ours.”

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