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Pennsylvania senator holding up final approval of bill to help veterans exposed to burn pits

The bill stands at a halt as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa) seeks to add an amendment regarding spending and raising concern about the allocated money in benefits.

CLEVELAND — One of the largest veterans health care bills in decades is now in jeopardy. 

The PACT Act passed with a majority vote from both congressional chambers in early 2022. However, the presidential signing is now delayed due to one U.S. Senator who is concerned over spending.  

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It is something that affects veterans like Tim Houser. Houser knows first-hand how catastrophic burn pits can impact a soldier’s life.    

“I served into gulf war where I was exposed to a lot of stuff besides just burn pits, Iraq army set their oil Wells on fire, and they used SAR gas on us,” said Houser. 

When he returned to the United States, Houser developed symptoms that would hospitalize him nearly every month. 

“Every time I go to the hospital, they're like, well, is this the last time we're gonna see him? So, cause I, I get admitted almost every month," Houser added.

Houser says Veterans Affairs linked his illness to the toxic exposure while serving. However, the medical expenses are not covered by the government. This is the reason why the fight for the Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxic or The PACT Act continues. The bill stands at a halt as Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa) seeks to add an amendment regarding spending and raising concern about the allocated $300 million dollars in benefits.

The bill passed with a majority vote by both the House and Senate in June. After undergoing some revision by the House, Toomey halted the process for the bill's signing by President Biden. Veterans and families like Susan Zeier, whose son-in-law inspired the bill, says her family suffers due to the lack of benefits for those who served our country. 

“You know, they, the BA says the D-O-D the government says, no, you, your spouse did not die as a result of, of his service. So you get nothing. We need people to know that this is what the VA is doing to our war heroes, who willingly went off to war and fought for our country. And when they, if they returned sick, it's tough luck you're on your own.”

3News has reached out to Senator Toomey’s office for a statement and we are awaiting a response. 

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