WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — A bill that would provide health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits won approval in the Senate late Tuesday.
The approval came after a brief stalemate over the measure infuriated advocates and inspired some to camp out outside of the Capitol. The veterans and advocates were camping out overnight for about a week, protesting the Senate to pass the bill.
After some back and forth between lawmakers, the bill finally cleared the upper chamber. The Honoring Our PACT Act passed 86 to 11.
The $280 billion package would no longer force veterans to prove their illness was caused by toxic exposures suffered in the military to get VA coverage.
The House passed the bill in July, but it stalled in the Senate after several Republicans demanded an amendment be added to ensure that the money in the package could not be spent on unrelated programs.
“What I’m trying to limit is the extent to which they can use a budgetary gimmick to reclassify spending so that they can go on an unrelated spending binge,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).
Senator Toomey voted against the final bill, but Democrats were still able to secure enough Republican votes to push it through.
The bill now heads to the President’s desk, and President Biden has already said he plans to sign it.