NTU urges all Senators to vote “NO” on the Senate amendment to H.R. 3967, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 (Honoring our PACT Act). NTU appreciates that the federal government has a responsibility to pay for service-connected medical conditions of the nation’s servicemembers and veterans; however, Congress must balance this important duty with its fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers to offset new federal spending.
Under the Senate substitute amendment to H.R. 3967, veterans exposed to toxic substances in the line of duty would have expanded access to Veterans Affairs Department (VA) health care and disability compensation. The measure would expand the scope of acceptable presumptive illnesses and provide increased support for U.S. veterans through the VA’s continuum of care.
NTU recognizes the good intentions of supporters of the Honoring our PACT Act, and applauds bipartisan efforts to improve veterans’ health outcomes. Like most Americans, we believe that U.S. taxpayers are obligated to support the health care needs of those who sustained injuries, diseases, or other medical conditions as a result of their sacrifices to our nation. It is up to Congress, though, to find a fiscally responsible path to providing for our nation’s veterans, and there is no shortage of wasteful spending Congress could cut to pay for new spending in the Honoring our PACT Act.
Unfortunately, neither chamber has contemplated even a modest effort to offset new spending. As NTU has outlined previously, the House version of the Honoring our PACT Act would not offset any new spending. The Senate version of the bill contains no offsets either. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the Senate substitute could increase deficits by around $285 billion over 10 years. This legislation’s deficit impact is almost as large as that of the Build Back Better Act, and is larger than that of the bipartisan infrastructure law passed last year.
Roll call votes on the PACT Act of 2022 will be included in NTU’s annual Rating of Congress and a “NO” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.