YouTube NEW Fox News articles can now be heard on audio! As they wait for the Senate to extend health benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits during their military service, veterans and their families camped outside the Capitol on Saturday afternoon were contacted by President Biden via FaceTime.
Biden had planned to pay a surprise visit to the Capitol to meet with the veterans, but after testing positive for COVID-19 in a “rebound” case hours earlier, he decided to send Denis McDonough, his secretary of veteran affairs, to deliver pizza and make arrangements for him to meet with the veterans.
To visit the families battling to pass legislation on burn pits, I made an impromptu trip to Capitol Hill this afternoon, Biden tweeted. Because of a positive COVID test, I was unable to meet with the family in person, but I want to thank @SecVetAffairs for bringing pizza in my place and setting up a FaceTime call in my stead.
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McDonough was surrounded by their families and a digital assistant for Sen. Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) office when he FaceTimed with Biden. A portion of the conversation was unheard, but near the end of the tape, Vice President Biden claimed that Congress had a “sacred commitment” to care for the armed forces when they returned home. He added that he meant this “from the bottom of my heart.”
Senators who opposed the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, or PACT Act, were “going to make up for the error they made,” according to Biden, who also called it “despicable” that they did so.
The Senate attempted to move the PACT Act forward earlier this week, but it only received 55 votes, falling five votes short of the 60 votes needed to end the filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, announced on Thursday that he will put it up for a vote on Monday even though the vote fell short.
On Monday night, Schumer stated, “We’re going to offer our Republican friends another chance to vote on this.”
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Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, has been a strong opponent of the most recent version of the PACT Act, claiming this past week that the Democrats are using it to push through $400 billion in “non-veteran spending” over the course of the next ten years.
“As worded, the PACT Act contains a budgetary fallacy that would permit the transfer of $400 billion in discretionary spending to the required spending category. To fulfill the PACT Act’s stated objective of increasing health care and other benefits for veterans, this provision is entirely unneeded “said Toomey’s office. “However, it would allow for an additional $400 billion in discretionary expenditure in the future that has nothing to do with veterans. If this ruse is left in place, Congress would essentially be using a crucial veterans care law as a cover for a huge, unrelated spending spree.”