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Veteran burn pit exposure bill gets second chance in U.S. Senate, Rep. Slotkin reacts

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, speaks at a town hall in 2019
Alec Gerstenberger
Rep. Elissa Slotkin is a co-sponsor of the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022.

A bill in Congress that would have expanded healthcare benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pit fumes may still have life. Republicans in the Senate blocked its passage on Thursday.

The Honoring Our Pact Act failed in a procedural vote after 25 Senate Republicans opposed the bill. It had received bipartisan support as well as an earlier approval in the Senate.

The move stunned advocates and lawmakers including Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) who had worked on the measure.

“You know every single one of [the Republicans who voted against the bill], I’m sure, has photographs of veterans in their offices smiling, you know, hamming it up for the pictures with veterans, but when it came down to actually doing the right thing, they chose politics over veterans, period."

Slotkin said she’s been in touch with fellow Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grant Rapids) who introduced and supported the bill along with Slotkin. She said he was just as stunned and frustrated as she was.

If passed, the measure would expand health care benefits for about 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pit fumes while in service.

“This was just, for me, totally beyond the pale, and there’s nowhere to hide from this. If you voted for it and then voted against it, you are petty. You are political, and you’re using veterans. And I just think we need to call that out," Slotkin said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) signaled at a press conference Thursday the bill will be given a second chance at a vote Monday.

Melorie Begay is the local producer and host of Morning Edition.
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