After blocking the bill last week and drawing ire from the veteran community and comedian Jon Stewart, Senate Republicans have agreed to pass legislation extending benefits for veterans who are ill as a result of hazardous exposures.
Charles Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate and the PACT Act’s sponsor, stated that he expects an agreement on the bill with modifications. “I think it will pass this evening without a trace. Therefore, that’s excellent news. The proposal will likely be put to a vote early on Tuesday night.
According to Schumer, the Senate will vote on three modifications to the bill, each of which requires 60 votes to pass. The law will then be finally passed by the upper chamber.
Additionally, the agreement will enable the upper house to vote on Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO on Friday.
The accord comes as Republicans have been looking for a solution to resolve the bill’s impasse after voting to prohibit it last Wednesday by a vote of 55-42.
Republican lawmakers who had voted in favor of passing the bill in June changed their minds. Since last Thursday, veterans have been sleeping outside the Capitol in an effort to persuade senators to alter their minds about the proposal.
The law was approved by the upper chamber in June by a vote of 84–14, and by the House last month by a vote of 34–2–88.
Republicans have claimed that their opposition to the plan does not stem from its core provisions, but from a “budgetary gimmick” that would label $400 billion in Department of Veterans Affairs expenditures as mandatory. Unlike discretionary spending, this spending would not be subject to the annual appropriations process.
Earlier on Tuesday, Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) were presented with revisions to the measure, according to Rep. Jerry Moran (Kan.), the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the top Republican. However, they must receive 60 votes to pass.
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