Rep. Tenney on veterans injured by burn pits

House and Senate passed separate bills addressing relief for veterans injured by burn pits. Both bills purport to help soldiers injured by toxins. H.R. 3967 – Honoring our PACT Act of 2021 – has 100 cosponsors, mostly Democrats. The Senate bill is S.3541. The companion House bill, H.R. 6659 – Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act – has 81 cosponsors mostly Republicans.

About the Democrats’ bill, Rep. Tenney writes:

Unfortunately, the bill considered today in the House politicized the issue and was a partisan effort to score points, rather than support our veterans. First, this bill could severely increase wait times at the VA for veterans, as the VA has not yet testified to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs about its ability to implement the legislation, and estimates suggest that the backlog of cases at the VA could grow to as many as 1.53 million claims by the end of Fiscal Year 2023. Rushing a bill through Congress that is not even implementable is bad enough, but doing so when we know this bill could increase wait times for veterans at a very significant cost is absolutely inexcusable.

Here is an excerpt from the CRS Summary:

The bill provides eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care, including mental health services and counseling, to veterans who (1) participated in a toxic exposure risk activity (a qualifying activity that requires a corresponding entry in an exposure tracking record system), (2) served in specified locations on specified dates, or (3) deployed in support of a specified contingency operation.

About the Republicans’ bill, Rep. Tenney writes:

This commonsense bill has already passed the Senate unanimously and would deliver immediate relief to veterans, without increasing wait times and jeopardizing other vital services. Unfortunately, instead of considering this legislation, Speaker Pelosi instead chose to move forward with the Honoring our PACT Act. It is deeply disheartening how the Democrat majority in the House continues to play politics with our veterans. Instead of delaying access to lifesaving care any longer, Speaker Pelosi can, and should, take up the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act as soon as possible and send it to President Biden for his signature.

Here is an excerpt from the CRS Summary:

Specifically, the bill extends the eligibility period for VA hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for combat veterans who served after September 11, 2001, and were exposed to toxic substances, radiation, or other conditions, including those who did not enroll to receive VA care during the eligibility period.

Rep. Tenney claims: I strongly support efforts to deliver much-needed relief to Veterans suffering from exposure to toxins. Yet she voted against H.R. 3967, which would deliver much-needed relief to Veterans suffering from exposure to toxins, if it would become law. Here are her excuses:

  • The Democrats’ bill (H.R. 3967) is a partisan effort to score points.
  • The VA has not yet testified to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs about its ability to implement the legislation (H.R. 3967).
  • The backlog of cases at the VA could grow.
  • The bill was rushed through.
  • The Republicans’ bill (H.R. 6659) is commonsense.
  • The Republicans’ bill passed the Senate unanimously.

Rep. Tenney doesn’t explain why the Democrats’ bill would provide services which are too expensive, would extend waiting time, yet is not implementable, while the Republicans’ bill would not. The answer lies in the detail of the CRS summary: the Democrats bill would make certain veterans eligible for medical services; the Republicans’ bill would extend current eligibility. Rep. Tenney decries delay, yet she had a chance to vote for one bill and may not have the chance to vote for the other.

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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